Anyone who was a fan of the disco music era has grooved to the sounds of the Sledge Sisters, members of the group Sister Sledge. Friday, the disco world lost an iconic member of the era and the group, Joni Sledge.
Disco icon Joni Sledge’s death came as a shock to her family. Her sisters told Daily News that she died of natural causes. Funeral services are scheduled for next week in Phoenix. After the services, the disco star will be laid to rest in a Philadelphia cemetery, by her late mother.
Joni was the founder of the group Sister Sledge. Her sister, Kim Sledge spoke about her death in an interview. She that because it came as such a shock, the family is getting though it basically one day at a time.
They believe their sister and group member was called home by God. She also insists that her sister lead a “clean life” and reiterates that she died of natural causes.
“She and my mom were very close, and we lost my mom to an aneurysm several years ago. I think it was just Joni’s time to go too,” she said. “She’s with our mom, and we feel the peace of that.”
Kim said her sister was “full of life” and working on new music as recently as two weeks ago.
“She just left the studio days before she passed. She was in Nashville finishing up new mixes,” Kim said.
On a conference call with their eldest sister Debbie earlier this month, Joni had them laughing about their lives growing up in Philadelphia, Kim said.
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“We were talking about our Easy-Bake oven and making the little cakes that our dog ate,” she said. “She was such a funny person.”
When the call came that Joni died at age 60, “it was a shock to all of us,” Kim said.
Sister Sledge started as a family quartet in 1971, when siblings Debbie, Joni, Kim and Kathy ranged in age from 12 to 16.
A big break came when they opened for Marvin Gaye at Radio City Music Hall in 1975. Their 1979 breakthrough album “We Are Family” went platinum with its title track becoming a massive hit and enduring disco-era anthem.
In the wake of Joni’s death, Kim called it “bittersweet” that the band was due to perform Saturday night at the Cypress Bayou Casino in Charenton, LA.
She and Debbie still planned to perform — per their contract — and would use it as an opportunity to celebrate Joni’s legacy, she said.
“We know she’ll be on that stage with us. We really are that close,” Kim, 59, said. “I’m actually kind of relieved. It will be good to sing because singing is something we do that’s healing. We can sing her favorites. We might even sing some new material she wrote. I think it’s just going to be a concert where we love on each other.”
She said the family will return to Phoenix for a service on Tuesday and then head to their hometown for another memorial before Joni is “laid to rest with our mom, aunts and uncles in the Philadelphia area.”
A third memorial in Britain is also a possibility, she said.
“The UK was another place she loved. She was a world traveler who embraced all cultures and all people. She spoke French fluently. She was just an exceptional, effervescent person,” Kim said.