Disco diva and grammy-winning legend Donna Summer – whose idiosyncratic vocals and catchy disco hits revolutionised dance music, has gone to the great glitterball in the sky having died of cancer, aged just 63.
Born in Massachusetts, Summer first broke into the music business in her twenties as a backing singer. She enjoyed her first hit in 1976 with the irresistibly hypnotic Love to Love You Baby which she followed with Could it be Magic and the iconic I Feel Love that captures that era like no other track.
The seventies for those too young to know and those too old to remember was the glittering disco era that spawned superstars like The Bee Gees and I Will Survive chanteuse Gloria Gaynor. Donna Summer was equally popular with the disco kids, the soul-lovers and the pop fanatics, and adored by the gay fraternity for her dramatic persona, powerful voice and contagious disco beats.
Moving on to the 80s, she achieved further success with a new electronic sound that utilised synthesizers and released more mainstream pop songs such as She Works Hard for the Money, a tune that achieved great success in 1983 and one that demonstrates the popular 80s style of pop musicianship. It was Summer’s partnership with popular eighties producer Giorgio Moroder that led to the common use of sequencers in popular dance music.
Despite being a gay icon, Summer courted controversy somewhat when she became a born-again Christian and allegedly made anti-gay comments after the aids outbreak in the eighties. It was alleged that Summer called aids divine punishment for immoral behaviour, although she completely denied making the comments and later said the incident had been a ‘terrible misunderstanding’.
Stately homo Elton John released a statement about Summer’s departure:
“Her records sound as good today as they ever did. That she has never been inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame is a total disgrace especially when I see the second-rate talent that has been inducted. She is a great friend to me and to the Elton John Aids Foundation and I will miss her greatly.”
Friend Dionne Warwick also expressed her sadness after losing her “dear friend.” In a statement she said: “My heart goes out to her husband and her children. Prayers will be said to keep them strong.”
Madonna wrote “rest in peace,” on Twitter and then linked a video of herself performing a song she says was inspired by Summer. That’s so Madonna.
Summer died in Florida. She had three daughters and four grandchildren. On Thursday they issued a statement that said “[we are] at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy”.
RIP – disco diva.
Photo source: spin.com