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Donna Summer

Donna Summer's title as the "Queen of Disco" wasn't mere hype. Like many of her contemporaries, she was a talented vocalist trained as a powerful gospel belter, but she set herself apart with her songwriting ability, magnetic stage presence, and shrewd choice of studio collaborators, all of which resulted in sustained success. During the '70s alone, she topped the Billboard club chart 11 times with high-quality, often-high concept material that included the rapturous "Love to Love You Baby," the innovative "I Feel Love," and a radically transformed "MacArthur Park." These crossover hits embodied the disco era with audacious musicality and uninhibited eroticism. After her subgenre was declared dead, Summer was very much part of the evolution of dance music. Through the feminist anthem "She Works Hard for the Money," she became an MTV star, and she continued to top the club chart with disco-rooted house singles through 2010, 35 years after her breakthrough. Indeed, she was the ultimate disco diva.

Summer was born LaDonna Andre Gaines on December 31, 1948, and grew up in Boston's Mission Hill section. Part of a religious family, she first sang in her church's gospel choir, and as a teenager performed with a rock group called the Crow. After high school, she moved to New York to sing and act in stage productions, and soon landed a role in a German production of Hair. She moved to Europe around 1968-1969, and spent a year in the German cast, after which she became part of the Hair company in Vienna. She joined the Viennese Folk Opera, and later returned to Germany, where she settled in Munich and met and married Helmut Sommer, adopting an Anglicized version of his last name. Summer performed in various stage musicals and worked as a studio vocalist in Munich, recording demos and background vocals. Her first solo recording was 1971's "Sally Go 'Round the Roses," but success would not come until 1974, when she met producers/songwriters Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte while working on a Three Dog Night record. The three teamed up for the single "The Hostage," which became a hit around Western Europe, and Summer released her first album, Lady of the Night, in Europe only. In 1975, the trio recorded "Love to Love You Baby," inspired by Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin's lush, heavy-breathing opus "Je T'aime...Moi Non Plus." Powered by Summer's graphic moans, "Love to Love You Baby" became a massive hit in Europe, and drew the attention of Casablanca Records, which put the track out in America. A 17-minute, side-long epic on the LP of the same name, its single version topped the Billboard club chart and climbed to number two on the Hot 100.

In the wake of "Love to Love You Baby," albums (as opposed to just singles) became an important forum for Summer and her producers. The 1976 follow-up Love Trilogy contained another side-long suite in "Try Me (I Know We Can Make It Work)," and demonstrated Moroder and Bellotte's growing sophistication as arrangers with its lush, sweeping strings. Four Seasons of Love, released later in the year, was a concept album with one track dedicated to each season, and 1977's I Remember Yesterday featured a variety of genre exercises. Despite the album's title, it produced the most forward-looking single in Summer and Moroder's catalog, the monumental "I Feel Love." Eschewing the strings and typical disco excess, "I Feel Love" was the first major pop hit recorded with an entirely synthesized backing track; its lean, sleek arrangement and driving, hypnotic pulse laid the groundwork not only for countless Euro-dance imitators, but also for the techno revolution of the '80s and '90s. It became Summer's second Top Ten hit in the U.S., and she followed it with Once Upon a Time, another concept album, this one retelling the story of Cinderella for the disco era.

Summer's albums were selling well, bolstered by her popularity in the dance clubs, and she was poised to become a major pop hitmaker as well. Her acting turn in the 1978 disco-themed comedy Thank God It's Friday produced another hit in "Last Dance," which won her a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal (as well as an Oscar for songwriter Paul Jabara). Doubtlessly benefiting from the added exposure, the double-LP set Live and More became Summer's first number one album later that year. It featured one side of new studio material, including a disco cover of the psychedelic pop epic "MacArthur Park" that became her first number one pop single early the next year. Her 1979 double-LP Bad Girls featured more of her songwriting contributions than ever, and went straight to number one, as did the lusty singles "Bad Girls" -- co-written with husband Bruce Sudano -- and the rock-oriented "Hot Stuff," which made Summer the first female artist ever to score three number one singles in the same calendar year. Her greatest-hits package On the Radio also topped the Billboard 200, the first time any artist had ever hit number one with three consecutive double LPs; the newly recorded title track became another hit, and Summer's duet with Barbra Streisand, "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)," became her fourth number one single.

At the peak of her success, Summer decided to leave Casablanca, and became the first artist signed to the new Geffen label. Sensing that the disco era was coming to a close, Summer attempted to modify her style to include more R&B and pop/rock on her first Geffen album, 1980's The Wanderer; the album and its title track were both hits. Not wanting to alienate her core audience, Summer returned to pure dance music on an attempted follow-up; however, Geffen deemed I'm a Rainbow not worthy of release (it was finally issued in 1996). Instead, Summer ended her collaboration with Moroder and Bellotte and teamed up with Quincy Jones for 1982's Donna Summer. "Love Is in Control (Finger on the Trigger)" was a significant hit, but none of its follow-ups did very well. With producer Michael Omartian, Summer moved back into post-disco dance music and contemporary R&B with 1983's She Works Hard for the Money. Its title track was another crossover smash, given an extra boost by its highly choreographed video, and was nominated for multiple MTV Video Awards.

Summer's prime then came to a close. Despite winning a gospel Grammy for "Forgive Me," Summer's 1984 follow-up, Cats Without Claws, flopped, as did the 1987 effort All Systems Go. Hiring the British production team of Stock, Aitken & Waterman, Summer scored her last major mainstream success with the 1989 Top Ten single "This Time I Know It's for Real," from the album Another Place & Time. Around the same time, she began denouncing her earlier, "sinful" disco material. Mistaken Identity, released in 1991, effectively killed her momentum and was her lone proper studio album of the decade. However, she did make some noise in clubs with "Melody of Love," from the excellent 1994 retrospective Endless Summer, and reunited with Moroder for the 1997 non-LP single "Carry On," which won the inaugural Grammy for Best Dance Recording.

Summer subsequently signed a deal with Sony, which primed her for re-establishment with 1999's VH1 Presents: Live and More Encore!, which featured the new song "I Will Go with You (Con Te Partiro)," another number one club hit. After a couple additional non-album singles, she released the energetic and eclectic Crayons. Four of its singles scaled to the top of the dance chart. Summer remained intermittently active with concert and TV appearances during the next several years, and released "To Paris with Love," her final chart-topping single, in 2010. After battling lung cancer, Donna Summer died at her home in Naples, Florida on May 17, 2012. The following April, she was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. ~ Steve Huey
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Donna Summer Gold

Disc 1

1. Love To Love You Baby

2. Could It Be Magic

3. Try Me, I Know We Can make It

4. Spring Affair

5. Love's Unkind

6. I Feel Love

7. I Love You

8. Last Dance

9. MacArthur Park

11. Hot Stuff

12. Bad Girls

13. Dim All The Lights

14. Sunset People

16. On The Radio

Disc 2

1. The Wanderer

2. Love Is In Control (Finger On The Trigger)

3. State Of Independence)

4. She Works Hard For The Money

5. Unconditional Love

6. There Goes My Baby

7. Supernatural Love

8. Dinner With Gershwin

9. All Systems Go

10. This Time I Know It's For Real

11. I Don't wanna Get Hurt

12. Love's About To Change My Heart

13. When Love Cries

15. melody Of Love (Wanna Be Loved)

17. Dream-A-Lot's Theme (I Will Live For Love)

x

Track List: 20th Century Masters The Millennium Edition

1. Love To Love You Baby

2. I Feel Love

3. Last Dance

4. MacArthur Park

5. Hot Stuff

6. Bad Girls

7. Dim All The Lights

9. On The Radio

10. Love Is In Control (Finger On The Trigger)

11. She Works Hard For The Money

x

Track List: Endless Summer

1. Melody Of Love (Wanna Be Loved)

2. Love To Love You Baby

3. Could It Be Magic

4. I Feel Love

5. Last Dance

6. MacArthur Park

8. Hot Stuff

9. Bad Girls

10. Dim All The Lights

11. No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)

12. On The Radio

13. The Wanderer

14. Love Is In Control (Finger On The Trigger)

16. She Works Hard For The Money

17. This Time I Know It's For Real

18. Any Way At All

x

Track List: On The Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes I & II

1. On The Radio

2. Love To Love You Baby

3. Try Me, I Know We Can Make It

4. I Feel Love

5. Our Love

6. I Remember Yesterday

7. I Love You

8. Heaven Knows

9. Last Dance

10. MacArthur Park

11. Hot Stuff

12. Bad Girls

13. Dim All The Lights

14. Sunset People

15. No More Tears (Enough Is Enough) (feat. Barbra Streisand)

16. On The Radio (Long Version)

x

Track List: Bad Girls

1. Hot Stuff

2. Bad Girls

3. Love Will Always Find You

4. Walk Away

5. Dim All The Lights

6. Journey To The Centre Of Your Heart

7. One Night In A Lifetime

8. Can't Get To Sleep At Night

9. On My Honour

10. There Will Always Be A You

11. All Through The Night

12. My Baby Understands

13. Our Love

14. Lucky

15. Sunset People

x

Track List: Once Upon A Time

1. Once Upon A Time

2. Faster And Faster To Nowhere

3. Fairy Tale High

4. Say Something Nice

5. Now I Need You

6. Working The Midnight Shift

7. Queen For A Day

8. If You Got It Flaunt It

9. A Man Like You

10. Sweet Romance

11. (Theme) Once Upon A (Part I)

12. Dance Into My Life

13. Rumour Has It

14. I Love You

15. Happily Ever After

16. (Theme) Once Upon A Time (Part II)

x

Track List: I Remember Yesterday

1. I Remember Yesterday

2. Love's Unkind

3. Back In Love Again

4. I Remember Yesterday (Reprise)

5. Black Lady

6. Take Me

7. Can't We Just Sit Down (And Talk It Over)

8. I Feel Love

x

Track List: Four Seasons Of Love

1. Spring Affair

2. Summer Fever

3. Autumn Changes

4. Winter Melody

5. Spring (Reprise)

x

Track List: A Love Trilogy

1. Try Me, I Know We Can Make It

2. Intro: Prelude To Love

3. Could It Be Magic

4. Wasted

5. Come With Me

x

Track List: Love To Love You Baby

1. Love To Love You Baby

2. Full Of Emptiness

3. Need-A-Man Blues

4. Whispering Waves

5. Pandora's Box

6. Full Of Emptiness (Reprise)

x

Track List: I'm A Fire (Solitaire Club Mix) (Radio Single)

x

Track List: Love Is In Control (Finger On The Trigger) (Chromeo & Oliver Remix) (Single)

1. Love Is In Control (Finger On The Trigger) (Chromeo & Oliver Remix)

2. Love Is In Control (Finger On The Trigger) (Chromeo & Oliver Dub Mix)

x

Track List: Love To Love You Baby (Giorgio Moroder Remix) (Single)

1. Love To Love You Baby (Giorgio Moroder Remix)

x

Track List: MacArthur Park (Laidback Luke Remix) (Single)

1. MacArthur Park (Laidback Luke Remix)

x

Track List: The Journey: The Very Best Of Donna Summer

1. Love To Love You Baby

2. Could It Be Magic

3. I Feel Love

4. I Love You

5. Last Dance

6. Macarthur Park

8. Hot Stuff

9. Bad Girls

10. Dim All The Lights

11. No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)

12. On The Radio

13. The Wanderer

14. Love Is In Control (Finger On The Trigger)

15. State Of Independence

16. She Works Hard For The Money

17. This Time I Know It's For Real

19. That's The Way

20. Dream-A-Lot's Theme (I Will Live For Love)

Comments

Report as inappropriate
kcjoc60
High School Senior - 1978 - heavy metal or disco? Donna Summer's voice = disco forever. Bought all her music. She's not a Disco Queen but an unbelievable voice and singer and person. Donna and Linda Ronstadt are my two favorite singers. What a combo!!
Report as inappropriate
alexandraabe l l a 1 7
❤❤❤❤❤
Report as inappropriate
jerrydouglas 4
Went to disco clubs..Dance d to Donna.Got lucky.Loved Donna.
Report as inappropriate
DONNA ,..YOUR "ROCK'N" !��������☺️☺
COULD DANCE ALL NITE TO YOUR
BEAUTIFUL VOICE ! LOVE YOU GIRL!
73 YEAR OLD NYC WHITE DUDE ! ����
Report as inappropriate
Love Donna sumer
Report as inappropriate
sjceraldi
LOVE YOUR MUSIC, GREAT MEMORIES! THANK YOU, DONNA!
Report as inappropriate
The best, the perfect performer, the perfect woman
Report as inappropriate
MISS the queen of disco!!!


RIP

0:o/
Report as inappropriate
Let's danncce& Live& Care & love 2 nite for Democrats get dowwnn!!!201 6
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Last Dance ..... Oh yea .....
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maryjore70
Saw her in person great performer
Report as inappropriate
Rest in sequines, daahling!
Report as inappropriate
The Queen of Disco right chea.
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meichtryor
My wife worked at her office several times back in the 80's doing accounting. Donna was a class act.
Report as inappropriate
alyssaramsar r a n
Donna Summer is my .best Disco
Queen I love all music I dance to
Her song I love there will always be you God. Love more R I P
In Heaven
Report as inappropriate
alyssaramsar r a n
,,,,
Report as inappropriate
alyssaramsar r a n
I always used to Dance to your
Song in my days you was Disco
Queen music God will always love someone near him like you
To sing him your lovely song. R I P
Report as inappropriate
alyssaramsar r a n
I know Donna Summer is the Best
I love the song There will always be a you I love her God Bless her.
With a Beautiful voice
Report as inappropriate
I know people won't believe me but it's okay. I met her twice in my life time. When I was a child and saw the premier to Thank God It's Friday, and the year before she passed here in Sarasota, Florida. Something I will forever cherish.
Report as inappropriate
Remember STUDIO 54 ?? Always wished I was old enough... But at 10 years old no shot
�� Donna Summer
Report as inappropriate
I think very few artists are able to perform as well in person as they sound on records. Having the opportunity to see Donna Summer in person twice, I can say she never failed to delivery a superlative performance both times. It is a loss to the music industry that this remarkable vocalist is no longer with us. God bless you Donna.
Report as inappropriate
alexandraabe l l a 1 7
❤❤❤❤❤
Report as inappropriate
❤❤❤❤❤
Report as inappropriate
sjceraldi
The Best..... Donna! Love Your Music!
Report as inappropriate
❤❤❤❤❤
Report as inappropriate
Brilliant, great voice.. Love my Pandora..
Report as inappropriate
Who is she
Report as inappropriate
I love Donna but I love God so much may god bless you Donna we miss you
By micaiah
Report as inappropriate
They don't make music like this (McArthur Park / Disco ) anymore ....
Report as inappropriate
matratus
αΩ
Report as inappropriate
I don't think I can take it.... I'll never have that recipe again.....Mc A r t h u r s Park is melting .....
Report as inappropriate
❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤
Report as inappropriate
Love me some Donna....
Report as inappropriate
matratus
Chula!!
Report as inappropriate
What is it about this song
Report as inappropriate
She & Giorgio.. The best
Report as inappropriate
Stop running go to JESUS.
Report as inappropriate
lesliegoolch a r a n
She just wasn't the queen, she was disco
Report as inappropriate
Yea Donna was serious! Hard for the Money gets my blood going and I'm a guy. It's a very driving piece.
Report as inappropriate
yvettepennin g t o n 3 4
She was the QUEEN of DISCO rip
Report as inappropriate
I was in my early teens in the mid 70s, Ms Donna Summer was the Queen of Disco and radio. McArthur Park, my favorite song by The Queen of Disco .
Report as inappropriate
May God keep u safe and yours
Report as inappropriate
hsuarez1939
Great performer. She was excellent for the 70's
Report as inappropriate
Love you Donna.
Report as inappropriate
Only one Donna for me! BRAVO!
Report as inappropriate
teachgina
So honored to have seen in her in concert twice. She proved that she could perform more than just disco. But she will always be the Queen. Her music will live on forever!
Report as inappropriate
The Lord is my everything!! ! ! ! ! ! !
Report as inappropriate
I love her music too. Too sad too bad
Report as inappropriate
Love you Donna, RIP!!!!!
Report as inappropriate
I love her music
Show more

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