Olivia Newton-John, who sang some of the biggest hits of the 70’s and 80’s as she transformed her image from a virgin girl next door to a spandex-clad vixen — a transformation mirrored in miniature by her starring role in “Grease,” a of the most popular movie musicals of its time — died Monday at her Southern California ranch. She was 73.
The death was announced by her husband, John Easterling.
Although she was never a critical favourite, Mrs. Newton-John amassed No. 1 hits, hit albums and four records that sold over two million copies each. Most of all, she was sympathetic.
In the early stages of her career, this Anglo-Australian singer seduced listeners with a high-pitched, smooth, vibrato-warmed voice that kindly blended with the kind of swooning middle-of-the-road pop that often passed in the mid-1970s. country music.
Her chart-topping performances made that blur clear. She scored seven Top 10 hits on Billboard’s Country chart, two of which became back-to-back overall No. 1 hits in 1974 and ’75. First came “I Honest I Love You,” an unashamedly heartfelt statement co-written by Peter Allen and Jeff Barry, followed by “Have You Never Been Mellow,” a spring of a song written by the producer of many of her greatest albums, John Farrar.
“I Honestly Love You” also won two of the singer’s four Grammys, for Record of the Year and Best Vocal Achievement for Female Pop.
A full obituary will be published shortly.