Iconic disco singer Donna Summer, who was best known for a string of hit singles including ‘I Feel Love’ and ‘Hot Stuff’, died today aged 63.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, she released seventeen studio albums during a career which lasted over 30 years. Reports claim that she had been working on a new LP shortly before she passed away in Florida following a lengthy battle with cancer.
Inspired in her early teens by Motown girl groups such as The Supremes and later by the likes of Janis Joplin, Summer pursued a career in entertainment and landed roles in several musical productions in Europe as well as work as a studio session singer.
Although her debut single ‘Sally Go Round The Roses’ – released under her birth name Donna Gaines in 1971 – wasn’t a hit, her solo career began to take shape after she met producers Giorgo Mordoer and Pete Bellote, the latter of whom produced her 1974 debut LP ‘Lady Of The Night’.
She found chart success the following year with her single ‘Love To Love You’ – famed for its racy intro which featured her moaning suggestively – which was a Top 5 hit in the UK. It also paved the way for her US breakthrough when an extended version of the single, re-titled ‘Love To Love You Baby’, reached Number Two in the US charts while the 1976 album of the same name sold over a million copies.
Summer released a slew of albums in quick succession throughout the ’70s and became one of disco’s most successful artists following the success of albums such as 1977’s ‘I Remember Yesterday’ which included the iconic single ‘I Feel Love’, but she grew disillusioned with both the genre and her old record label Casablanca. In 1980 she signed a deal with Geffen Records with her first album for the label, ‘The Wanted’, embracing new sounds and movements such as new wave. She would go on to release several albums with the label before they parted ways in 1988.
Summer’s musical output became less frequent after the ’80s. Despite a series of compilations, her 2008 album ‘Crayons’ was her first album of entirely original material since her 1991 effort ‘Mistaken Identity’. She married twice – firstly, to Austrian actor Helmuth Sommer, whose surname she kept and anglicized after their divorce, and later to Brooklyn Dreams singer Bruce Sadano.
Summer, who became a born-again Christian in 1979 – a decision which prompted to stop performing ‘Love To Love You Baby’ for 25 years – had one daughter, Mimi, from her first marriage and two further children, Brooklyn and Amanda, from her marriage to Sadano.