|Photo from Consequence of Sound|
And while we're probably never going to hear the end of Whitney Houston's troubles, I fear that the world will soon forget about Donna Summer's legacy. Well, I just cannot sit by and let that happen, even if what I'm about to offer is a VERY condensed biography.
I think one of the reasons I liked her so much is because she was, like me, a Boston girl. Raised as Ladonna Adrien Gaines in Dorchester, Massachusetts, she always loved to sing around the house, but her vocal talent emerged in church when she replaced a vocalist who never showed up. Everyone was surprised to hear a very grown-up voice coming from the ten year-old, and Summer herself was quoted later as saying, "I felt like God was saying to me, Donna, you're going to be very, very famous."
|A rare photo of Donna Summer and her first husband, via Prince.org|
Summer than began to record under the direction of Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. The song that marked her breakthrough into disco was the controversial, hot and heavy hit "Love to Love You Baby." Moroder and Summer were inspired by the sexy Jane Birken/Serge Gainsbourg "Je T'Aime." Time magazine called the song "a marathon of 22 orgasms" and it was banned by the BBC. Summer herself admitted in a 1976 interview with Rolling Stone magazine that recording it was a little embarrassing. Only after the studio was cleared and the lights dimmed was Summer able to get into the mood.
And so her hits flooded the airwaves during the days of disco: "I Feel Love," "On the Radio," "Last Dance," "Bad Girls," "Hot Stuff," "She Works Hard for the Money," "Heaven Knows," and "Dim All the Lights." One of the songs that Summer was supposed to record but never did was Bruce Springsteen's "Cover Me." The record company preferred his rock arrangement, although I can easily envision Summer singing the song. Instead she was given another Springsteen composition, "Protection." A duet of the two megastars performing the song together was never released, but I found the following mash-up that a fan put together, and it sounds absolutely magical:
In the 80s, Summer wanted to distance herself from disco. One of her post-dicso hits was "This Time I Know It's For Real," a favorite of mine from the decade.
At the time of her death, Summer had been married to Bruce Sudano, whom she met in 1978. They had two daughters, Brooklyn and Amanda.
I was originally going to make this one of my Two Forgotten Friday Favorite posts, but I could not choose only two Donna Summer hits. RIP, Donna Summer--you will be missed.