LOS ANGELES, May 17, 2012 — Donna Summer, Queen of Disco, has gathered her family around her to celebrate her “Last Dance”. Born LaDonna Adrian Gaines on New Year’s Eve December 31, 1948, Donna Summer has died at the age of 63.
Reports are that she died at her home in Key West, Florida following a battle with lung cancer. Several sources are telling us Summer’s believed she contracted the disease after by inhaling toxic particles after the 9/11 attacks in New York City.
Before there was, a Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, or Madonna there was Donna Summer, known as the Queen of Disco and her hits songs “Last Dance”, “Hot Stuff”, “On the Radio and “She Works Hard for the Money.”
A mother, singer, songwriter, and a lover of life, Donna Summer was raised as a strong devout Christian girl that never forgot her roots from whence she came from.
During the disco era of the 1970s and the early 1980s, Ms. Summer became an icon of the genre with her mezzo-soprano vocal range. Summer was a five-time Grammy Award winner. She is the first female artist to have three number one solo singles in one year: “MacArthur Park”, “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls” and she is the only artist to have three number one double albums in a row “Live and More,” “Bad Girls,” and “On The Radio.”
Over the years, Donna proved herself to be a consummate artist, and songwriter co-writing many of her hits. At the time of her death, she was writing a musical based on her life story
Singing in the church at a young age, LaDonna’s role model was Mahalia Jackson. She loved singing for the Lord as a teenager, performing in the church chorus. In her mid teens, she would imitate the style of famous groups, singing with her sister and a cousin imitating famous Motown girl groups such as” Diana Ross and The Supremes” and “Martha and the Vandellas.”
In the late 1960s, Summer was influenced by artist Janis Joplin a member of “Big Brother and the Holding Company” rock band. LaDonna Adrian Gaines started singing in a rock band called ‘The Crow,’ and once the band broke she left school to appear in the German production of the Broadway musical “Hair.” Once in Germany, there was no stopping Summer. Donna was active in many musical theater, playing in such shows as Showboat, Porgy And Bess, and The Me Nobody Knows, and in 1971, she cut her first solo record, “Sally Go ‘Round The Roses”
After deciding to drop out of school, traveling becoming full of life lessons convinced that music was to be her life, and a way out of Boston. The same family who ridiculed her for her voice and her looks were surely n shocked when they heard LaDonna Adrian wrote a song the smash hit “Love to Love You Baby”.
The story of that first hit is that Summer sang background for the 70s hit making trio ‘Three Dog Night’ during which she met producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. An amazing songwriter on her own, in mid 1975 Summer approached Giorgio Moroder with “Love to Love You Baby”.
Donna Summer and Pete Bellotte first developed the song for another singer. While “Love to Love You Baby” put Summer, it also set her apart from all other artists of the time. Moroder persuaded Summer to be the one to record her song as a demo track for another singer. Summer has said that she thought the song’s mood might be set if sung in a manner like Marilyn Monroe, cooing the lyrics.
Producer Moroder decided after hearing playback of the taping, that Summer’s version should actually be the one to be released. Some radio stations refused the song due to its suggestive sexual overtone style, however, “Love to Love You” found many chart success in several European countries, and made the Top 5 in the United Kingdom.
The song did not end with the Disco era as “Love to Love You Baby” was sampled in Beyoncé Knowles’s “Naughty Girl” and by TLC on their original version of “I’m Good at Being Bad.”
In 2008, Summer released her first album after 17 years, songs that were all newly written and recorded material. The album was called “Crayons” having a number one dance single, called “I’m A Fire” that made Summer the only artist, to have a number one dance single in every decade since the 1970s.
Over three decades after her first success, Donna Summer was embarking on a whole new chapter in her career when God called her to her “last dance”. She was married briefly in the early 70s to Helmut Sommer, with whom she had one child daughter Mimi Sommer.
Summer married husband songwriter Bruce Sudano with whom she has two children, Brooklyn and Amanda Grace Sudano. Donna was a grandmother to Vienna Lynn Adrianna Dohler and Savannah Grace Dohler Mimi’s daughters.
Throughout the years Summer lived life her way maintaining homes in Los Angeles, Connecticut, and New York as well as homes in Tennessee, New York City, and Florida where she passed away.
The late Dick Clark stated (Good Morning America 11/7/85): “She has got one of the great voices of all time. She survived adversity, adversity being - she’s a huge star in a period of time that overnight went away. She’s the only star, really, of the disco scene. And that was a terrible stigma and she managed to move on beyond that”.
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