Tuesday, June 12, 2012
a disco queen worth remembering.
she never cared for being called
“the queen of disco,”
but once begrudgingly confessed,
“it’s nice to be the queen of something.”
she feared being pegged as a one-dimensional performer,
& she was anything but –
winning 5 grammy awards for singing rock, r&b, & dance music,
donna summer sold over 20 million records,
enjoyed 14 top ten singles, &
had 3 consecutive double-disc albums hit #1.
& to be truthful, it was disco that launched her to superstardom.
she was born ladonna adrian gaines
on new year’s eve, 1948, in boston,
one of seven children to a schoolteacher mom
& a butcher/janitor/electrician dad.
originally trained as a gospel singer,
donna grew up singing in church,
& decided early on music was her calling
& would be her career.
she began her professional life
in the late 1960s in europe,
where she performed in a german production
of the rock musical hair.
over the next eight years,
she performed in many other productions,
including godspell & porgy & bess,
& married austrian actor hellmuth sommer.
when they divorced, donna kept the surname, but changed the spelling.
donna recorded a few times, as a solo & with others,
but unsuccessfully – until 1975, when love to love you baby
become an overnight smash, thanks to 17 minutes
of explicit lyrics & simulated orgasms.
donna returned to the u.s. a star of the mirror-ball movement.
she went on to record several disco staples –
many of which she co-wrote –
such as last dance, bad girls, hot stuff, she works hard for the money,
& [my personal favorite] macarthur park.
[it’s difficult to pick a favorite lyric of that bizarro ballad,
but here’s one for the running:
between the parted pages
we were pressed
in love’s hot fevered iron
like a striped pair of pants.]
but fame left donna, like it does so many, empty.
she suffered from depression, tried suicide,
& ultimately sought relief in her singing roots:
by 1979, donna was a born-again christian.
she remarried musician/producer bruce sudano.
they remained married for over 30 years,
with dual homes in nashville, tn & naples, fl.
they wrote songs together, & donna continued
to record & perform – she honored president obama’s
nobel peace prize with a concert in oslo in 2009.
donna summer died may 17th
of lung cancer few knew she was struggling with.
she was 63yo.
she’s survived by her husband,
three daughters & four grandchildren,
a brother & four sisters.
we’ll never have that recipe again . . .
dance with the angels, disco queen.
image source: starpulse.com.