Olivia Newton-John, who sang some of the biggest hits of the 1970s and ’80s while recasting her image as the virginal girl next door into a spandex-clad vixen — a transformation reflected in miniature by her starring role in “Grease,” one of the most popular movie musicals of its era — died on Monday at her ranch in Southern California. She was 73.
The death was announced by her husband, John Easterling.
Though never a critical favorite, Ms. Newton-John amassed No. 1 hits, chart-topping albums and four records that sold more than two million copies each. More than anything else, she was likable.
In the earlier phase of her career, this English-Australian singer beguiled listeners with a high, supple, vibrato-warmed voice that paired amiably with the kind of swooning middle-of-the-road pop that, in the mid-1970s, often passed for country music.
Her performance on the charts made that blurring 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 Honestly Love You,” an unashamedly earnest declaration co-written by Peter Allen and Jeff Barry, followed by “Have You Never Been Mellow,” a feather of a song written by the producer of many of her biggest albums, John Farrar.
“I Honestly Love You” also won two of the singer’s four Grammys, for record of the year and best female pop vocal performance.
A complete obituary will be published soon.