Donna Summer was the Queen of Disco and with good reason. Throughout the late 70s and early 80s, Donna Summer owned the dancefloor and the airwaves.
Donna Summer has passed away in Florida at the age of 63. A statement from her family said in a statement, “are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy.”‘
Donna was born LaDonna Adrian Gaines in a large family of seven children in Boston. Her father was a butcher, her mother was a teacher. She grew up on Gospel music but made Disco her career.
The five-times Grammy winner started as a backing singer for Three Dog Night. It was there she met producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte and signed for her first album ‘Lady Of The Night’ in 1974. While it reached number one in Belgium, it was not released in the USA.
Donna then had an idea for a lyric with the words ‘love to love you baby’. She presented the concept to Moroder who developed the song based on how they thought Marilyn Monroe would sing it and released it as a 17-minute epic. A 3 minute version was released as a single and Donna had her first global hit. ‘Love To Love You Baby’ reached no. 2 in America despite being banned by many radio stations because of its erotic groans and moans.
In 1977, the concept album ‘I Remember Yesterday’ featured ‘I Feel Love’. It gave her the Queen of Disco title. It was non-stop from here.
Her cover of ‘MacArthur Park’ became her first US number one. ‘Heaven Knows’, ‘Bad Girls’, ‘Hot Stuff’, ‘Dim All The Lights’, ‘On The Radio’ and then her duet with Barbra Streisand ‘No More Tears (Enough Is Enough) made her the biggest female star in the world at the time.
Donna’s career stalled in the mid 80s after she became a born-again Christian and was alleged to have made a comment saying AIDS was a punishment from God for the immoral lifestyle of homosexuals. While she denied she made the comment, she apologized saying “if I caused you pain, forgive me”.
By then her core fan base had diminished.
After that, she failed to find the right producer. Attempts with UK pop trio Stock Aitken Waterman weakened her legacy although they did give her another hit with ‘This Time I Know Its For Real’.
In the 90s Donna Summer took a job on a sitcom starring in Family Matters as Steve Urkel’s Aunt Oona.
Donna stepped out of recording then for 16-years and returned in 2007 with ‘Crayons’, an album true to her disco style. It reached no. 17 in the USA.
Donna died in Key West, Florida. She is survived by her husband Bruce Sudano and their daughters Brooklyn and Amy.