was never a big fan because I hated disco
but she made her mark
from usa today
Donna Summer reigned as the queen of disco in the late '70s and early '80s when the music itself ruled the dance floor and the charts.
The gorgeous singer with flowing locks commanded listeners to move with sultry vocals that rode waves of pulsing rhythms and lyrics that promised "a last chance for romance" or her intent to "bring a wild man back home."
The five-time Grammy winner, who was still making records as recently as last year, died in Englewood, Fla., Thursday after battling cancer. She was 63.
Summer was the first artist to have three double albums reach No. 1 on Billboard's album chart: Live and More, Bad Girls, On the Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes I & II. She became a cultural icon, not only as one of the defining voices of the era, but also as an influence on pop divas ranging from Madonna to Beyoncé.
The Boston-born, gospel-trained Summer (born LaDonna Andrea Gaines) initially found success in European stage productions of Hair and Godspell. She was living in Germany when she met producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, who would produce some of her biggest hits, including her star-making, groan-accentuated pillow-talk song Love to Love You Baby in 1975. A 17-minute version of the track became a club favorite and set the stage for what was to come.
Three years later, Last Dance, from the disco movie Thank God It's Friday (she played a singer hoping to perform at the disco), made her an international superstar. It was the start of an uninterrupted run of top 10 pop hits in 1978 and 1979 that included MacArthur Park, Heaven Knows, Hot Stuff and Bad Girls. The pace slowed after that, but she still scored with On the Radio, Love Is In Control (Finger on the Trigger) and the feminist anthem She Works Hard for the Money, which hit No. 1 on the R&B charts in 1983. Her 1979 platinum-selling duet with Barbra Streisand, No More Tears (Enough Is Enough), was another career highlight.
Though her mainstream popularity waned as the '80s progressed, she continued to pump out dance hits, while also exploring other genres, including jazz, reggae, rock and R&B. During this time, she became a born-again Christian and was accused of making anti-gay comments in the advent of the AIDS epidemic. The resulting boycott saw thousands of her records returned to her record label. She denied making the statements and profusely apologized.
In 2008, she revisited her disco roots with the well-received Crayons, her first album in 17 years. The diverse disc featured a still-vibrant Summer, brimming with energy and urging perseverance with the single Stamp Your Feet. It was an attitude that would sustain Summer over a 40-year career.
She also performed on American Idol that year with its top female contestants and in 2009 sang at the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo, Norway, in honor of President Obama.
Summer, who lived in Florida and Nashville, is survived by her husband, Brooklyn Dreams keyboardist/producer Bruce Sudano, whom she married in 1980. (The band collaborated with her on 1979's Heaven Knows.) The couple has two grown daughters, Brooklyn and Amanda, and Summer's daughter from a previous marriage, Mimi.