|Image: Mark Mainz /AP Images for Fox via CS Monitor|
I made a living as a "disco d.j." from 1978 through 1984, and Donna Summer was an essential part of the scene. I first heard disco in 1974, when I was a student in Munich, Germany. I would listen to Armed Forces Radio to get news from back in the States, and to hear American music at night. There was a new kind of music being played there. It was called "disco."
|2008 album cover of 'Crayons,' Summer's first studio |
album after a 17-year break: frugalcafe.com
"At the age of 18, she left her native Boston after being cast in a Munich production of the musical Hair. She remained in Germany for several more years, becoming fluent in German and performing in the musicals Godspell and Showboat. In the early 70s she married and divorced Austrian actor Helmut Sommer, with whom she had a daughter Mimi, anglicizing his name to Summer and keeping it as her own even after their split. It was also during her time in Germany that she met Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, two producers who would have a major impact on the future of her career." More at The National Post...
When I returned to the U.S. in January, 1975, I went to record stores (vinyl!) and asked them if they carried any disco. The universal response was, "What's disco?" I remarked to one of the clerks that his store would probably have an entire section devoted just to disco music by Christmas. He stared at me blankly. I was right, as history shows, and it was due in large part to the irresistible force of artists such as Donna Summer. I was blown away when I first heard her 1975 hit "Love To Love You Baby."
Well before she became the Queen of Disco, Donna Summer's voice was impressing people. She recorded some songs for the Philips label under the name "Donna Gains." The song "Can't Understand" was co-written by her and H. Hammerschmied (listen to it).
As a child of the 1960s, I also love rock (I had an album-oriented rock show on a small station outside of Madison, WI in the early 1980s), I was instantly infected by disco.
It was only back in February that I wrote that Donna Summer was a better voice talent than the late Whitney Houston. Whitney was great, but for vocal strength Donna was greater.
Few could belt out a song with the velvety force that Summer could. While many people hated disco and mocked Donna Summer, she was highly respected among her peers in the music industry.
He called it "a total disgrace" that she has not been inducted, "especially when I see the second-rate talent that has been inducted." Elton called her a "great friend" and said, "I will miss her greatly."
Donna Summer may have left this world, but she is not dead. Her spirit lives on here and on that Other Plane. If there is a dance club in Heaven, they're playing Donna Summer songs.
My favorite cover of "I Feel Love," by Venus Hum with The Blue Man Group: