Donna Summer, 1948-2012

LaDonna Adrian Gaines, known onstage as Donna Summer, passed away today in Florida, after a lengthy battle with cancer. The singer paired with Italian producer Giorgio Moroder for one of her biggest hits, "Love To Love You Baby," known for its effusively climatic finale, and was lumped into the disco trend of the late '70s, but I always thought of her as an R&B singer. Her pre-disco debut album, 1974's Lady of the Night, is actually quite interesting, produced by Moroder and partner Pete Bellotte, but never made an impact in the States.

I very clearly remember three 8-tracks my parents had when I was a kid: Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, Boz Scaggs' Silk Degrees, and Donna Summer's Once Upon a Time. The cover of the album inspired me to put hot rollers in my hair to give it volume like hers, except I was seven and didn't know how to use them, and my mom ended up having to cut out a large chunk of my hair. Summer was born the same year as my mom, which is sobering.

She also completely reinterpreted Serge Gainsbourg's "Je T'aime... Moi Non Plus." A few more highlights below, and Christgau's reviews of her work are an entertaining read.

The Muppets' version of "Hot Stuff"

"Lady of the Night"

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Audra Schroeder
Contact: Audra Schroeder