Mister D: I did a fabulous write up for this Hulaween event back in 2003 when Ms. Summer was the special musical guest. I also made a bootleg tape of Miss M and Miss Summer singing Bad Girls and Hot Stuff, but alas my computer was finally hacked one day after many years of attempts and so I no longer have the music or the article. That’s where Darrell and I learned a hard lesson…..Betteheads can be the best of friends or the worst of enemies. And for what? But this is about Ms. Summer….so let’s enjoy a couple of songs from her.
R.I.P. Donna Summer
By Steven Hyden May 17, 2012
(Singer Donna Summer, left, and Bette Midler pose for photographers before attending Midler’s sixth annual “Hulaween” event to benefit the New York Restoration Project in New York, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2003. The New York Restoration Project was founded by Midler in 1995 and is devoted to revitalizing and developing parks and community gardens. (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff) Photo: DIANE BONDAREFF, STR / BE)
Donna Summer lived with a lot of contradictions in her life: She was a disco queen raised on rock, a religious woman who became the reigning sex symbol of late â€™70s pop, a dominant singles artist who specialized in expansive concept records, a singer who epitomized mainstream music in her time and ended up influencing the underground for the next few decades. That life has come to an end, as has Summerâ€™s battle with breast cancer. Summer died Thursday at her home in Key West, Fla. She was 63.
Summerâ€™s first hit was the racy â€œLove To Love You Baby,â€ an orgasmic provocation that piled on the sultry, sensual emotion for 17 sweaty minutes. The song, which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard singles chart in 1976, was concocted by an Italian record producer and songwriter named Giorgio Moroder, whose partnership with Summer also resulted in the relentless futurist robo-funk of 1977â€™s â€œI Feel Love.â€ The best dance song of the â€™70s, if not the greatest dance track of all-time, â€œI Feel Loveâ€ didnâ€™t do as well on the U.S. chart as â€œLove To Love You Babyâ€ (it peaked at No. 6), but its influence proved to be a lot more lasting. â€œI have heard the sound of the future,â€ Brian Eno famously told David Bowie after hearing the song during the making of the duoâ€™s Berlin trilogy, and he was absolutely right: Club music would never be the same after â€œI Feel Love,â€ nor would sizeable chunks of rock music. (Anyone whoâ€™s ever been called â€œdance-punkâ€ owes half of everything they own to Summer and Moroder.) While its innovations have been borrowed countless times since, â€œI Feel Loveâ€ still sounds thrilling 35 years later.
Summer was born on New Yearâ€™s Eve in 1948 in Boston. She started singing in the church, and as a child emulated the girl groups of the early â€™60s. By the time Summer was a young adult, she had moved on to Janis Joplin and bluesy psychedelia, and played in a rock band called Crow. Later, she left for Europe and performed in musicals like Hair and Godspell. She also worked as a session singer, and sang back up for Three Dog Night, which is when she met Moroder and his partner Peter Bellotte.
By the late â€™70s, Summer was enjoying her greatest period of success, with three No. 1 albumsâ€”1978â€™s Live And More, 1979â€™s Bad Girls, and 1979â€™s On The Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes Vol. 1 And 2â€”and four chart-topping singles. Summerâ€™s star rose (and subsequently fell) with the explosive popularity of disco, but her range as a singer (she was a mezzo-soprano) and artist couldnâ€™t keep her confined to any one genre. While singles from this period like â€œLast Dance,â€ â€œOn The Radio,â€ and â€œBad Girlsâ€ remain her calling card, Summer was also a committed album artist. She released three ambitious double-records in the late â€™70s that centered on big concepts, including the passage of time (1976â€™s I Remember Yesterday), the scope of a life from poverty to wealth (1977â€™s Once Upon A Time), and prostitution (1979â€™s Bad Girls). Summer also showed that she hadnâ€™t lost her rock chops with â€œHot Stuff,â€ which won her a Grammy for best female rock vocal, one of five she was awarded in her career.
Summerâ€™s success came at a personal price: She fought drug addiction and anxiety issues, and struggled to come to terms with her sexy image. In 1979, she became a born-again Christian, and refused to perform â€œLove To Love You Babyâ€ for the next 30 years. Summer scored one of her biggest hits, â€œShe Works Hard For The Money,â€ in 1982 and returned to the charts in 1988 with â€œThis Time I Know Itâ€™s Real,â€ but she never recaptured the popularity she had in her prime. Still, in spite of the predictions of anti-disco curmudgeons, Summerâ€™s greatest hits continue to live on in pop history for their ineffable strength and inexhaustible soul. Her best songs still feelâ€”whether it’s love, sex, God, happiness, or that indescribable sensation that moves your hips.