Dame Olivia Newton-John AC DBE (26 September 1948 – 8 August 2022) was a British-Australian singer, actress and activist. She was a four-time Grammy Award winner whose music career included five number one hits and another ten Top Ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100, and two Billboard 200 number one albums, If You Love Me, Let Me Know (1974) and Have You Never Been Mellow (1975). Eleven of her singles (including two Platinum) and 14 of her albums (including two Platinum and four 2× Platinum) have been certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). With global sales of more than 100 million records, Newton-John is one of the best-selling music artists from the second half of the 20th century to the present.
In 1978, Newton-John starred in the musical film Grease, whose soundtrack remains one of the world’s best-selling albums of recorded music. It features two major hit duets with co-star John Travolta: “You’re the One That I Want” – which ranks as one of the best-selling singles of all time – and “Summer Nights”. Her signature solo recordings include the Record of the Year Grammy winner “I Honestly Love You” (1974) and “Physical” (1981) – Billboard’s Top Hot 100 Single of the 1980s. Her other major hit singles include “If Not for You” (1971), “Let Me Be There” (1973), “If You Love Me (Let Me Know)” (1974), “Have You Never Been Mellow” (1975), “Sam” (1977), “Hopelessly Devoted to You” (also from Grease), “A Little More Love” (1978) and, from the 1980 film Xanadu, “Magic” and “Xanadu” (with Electric Light Orchestra).
Newton-John was an activist for environmental and animal rights causes, and advocated for breast cancer research.
Illness and death
In May 2017, it was announced that Newton-John’s breast cancer had returned and metastasised to her lower back. Her back pains had initially been misdiagnosed as sciatica.
Newton-John subsequently revealed this was actually her third bout with breast cancer, as she had privately battled a recurrence of the disease in 2013 in addition to her initial 1992 fight. With the 2017 recurrence, the cancer had spread to her bones and progressed to stage IV.
Newton-John experienced a great deal of pain from the metastatic bone lesions and had openly spoken of using cannabis oil to ease her pain. She was an advocate for the use of medical cannabis; her daughter Chloe owns a cannabis farm in Oregon.
On 8 August 2022, Newton-John died of her disease at her home in California, aged 73.