NEW YORK (AP) — Olivia Newton-John, the superstar who dominated the pop, country, adult contemporary and dance music charts with hits like “Physical” and “You’re the One That I Want” and won countless hearts like Sandy in the successful film version of “Grease” (“Vaseline”), passed away. She was 73 years old.
Newton-John, a longtime Australian resident whose sales exceeded 100 million records, died Monday at her ranch in Southern California, her husband, John Easterling, reported on Instagram and Facebook.
“Olivia has been a symbol of triumph and hope for more than 30 years by sharing her journey with breast cancer,” Easterling wrote. “We ask that everyone respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time.”
Between 1973 and 1983, Newton-John was among the most popular artists in the world. He had 14 top 10 singles in the US, won four Grammy Awards, starred in “Grease” with John Travolta and “Xanadu” with Gene Kelly. His famous dance song with Travolta, “You’re the One That I Want,” was one of the biggest of the era and has sold more than 15 million copies.
“My dearest Olivia, you made our lives so much better,” Travolta wrote on social media. “Your impact was incredible. I love you so. We will see each other on the road and we will all be together again. Yours from the moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!”
Newton-John’s racy 1981 hit “Physical” was No. 1 for 10 weeks and was named Billboard’s Song of the Year despite being banned by some radio stations. A promotional clip about aerobics, shot in the early years of MTV, won a Grammy for best video.
Both musically and visually, the artist reinvented herself during those years. At first, the always-smiling blonde Newton-John favored soft country-pop songs like “Please Mr. Please” and “Have You Never Been Mellow” and ballads like “I Honestly Love You,” which in 1975 won her awards. Grammy for best female pop voice and recording of the year. But she picked up the pace for her on “Grease,” especially after Sandy traded in her white sweaters and blouses for black leather pants.
“Physical” even made Newton-John blush as she sang to her would-be lover “there’s nothing else to talk about / Unless it’s horizontal,” before exclaiming, “Let’s go animals! Animals!”
“I recorded it and all of a sudden I was like, ‘Oh my God, maybe I’ve gone too far!'” Newton-John told Entertainment Weekly in 2017, recalling how manager Roger Davies had suggested the song. “I called Roger and said, ‘We have to take this song down!’ He said: ‘It’s too late. It’s already out on the radio and it’s climbing the charts.’ I was horrified!”
She had a few hits after “Physical,” but her career declined and Newton-John became more likely to be in the news because of her private life. In 1992, while preparing for a concert tour, her father died and she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her marriage to actor Matt Lattanzi, with whom she had a daughter, actress and singer Chloe Lattanzi, ended in 1995 and a years-long relationship with cameraman Patrick McDermott mysteriously ended. McDermott disappeared during a fishing trip in California in 2005 and his whereabouts remained unknown for years. Numerous reports alleged that she was living in Mexico with a new girlfriend.
“I was lost at sea, and nobody really knows what happened,” Newton-John told Australia’s “60 Minutes” in 2016. “It’s only human to wonder. But you know, those are the things in life that you have to accept and let go of. Because whenever you go through difficult times, there are always those worries.”
Newton-John’s most recent albums include “Stronger Than Before”; a holiday collaboration with Travolta, “This Christmas,” and the autobiographical “Gaia: One Woman’s Journey,” inspired by her battle with cancer and the loss of her father.
The artist married John Easterling, founder of the Amazon Herb Company, in 2008. She has been involved in numerous charitable causes and has served as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Environment Program and as a national spokesperson for the Environmental Health Coalition. Childish. She also founded the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Center in Melbourne, Australia.
Newton-John was the daughter of German literature professor Brin Newton-John and Irene Bron, whose father was Nobel Prize-winning physicist Max Bron. The family moved to Australia when Olivia was 5 years old, but she returned to England as a teenager and lived with her mother after her parents separated from her. From an early age she dreamed of becoming a veterinarian, but she was winning singing competitions in high school and before she was 20 she had toured army bases and clubs and recorded her first single, “Till You Say You’ll Be Mine.” .
In 1971, he covered Bob Dylan’s “If Not for You” and began a close collaboration with a friend from Australia, John Farrar, who produced the song and later wrote “You’re the One That I Want,” “Magic ” and other hits for her.