For many she was known as the Queen of Disco music, but in the words of Sir, “Donna Summer was much more than the Queen of Disco.” She was a pioneer – a pioneer of dance music. Summer died Thursday morning in Florida as a result of cancer at the age of 63.
Speaking on Summer Sir Elton continued,” 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.”
Born LaDonna Adrian Gaines on New Year’s Eve – December 31, 1948 – in Boston. By the age of 10, Donna was the soloist in her church choir. Before making it as a disco singer, Donna sang Motown, psychedelic rock, opera, and a part in the musical “Hair”.
A short lived marriage to Helmuth Sommer gave Summer the last name the world came to know.
After performing in Europe Summer made her US debut in 1975 with “Love to Love You Baby” – very provocative song she recorded reluctantly and later would not perform at all. Summer’s career achievements include being the only performer with three consecutive double albums to reach the number one spot, the first female artist to have four number one singles in 13 months, 19 number one singles on the Billboard dance chart – in second place after-, five Grammy Awards, six American Music Awards, one gold album in the United States, 10 gold albums in the United Kingdom, and sold millions of albums around the world.
After disco waned and gave way to the hair bands and metal of the eighties, Summer turned her hand to rock and dance music. After returning to her Christian roots, Summer was falsely accused of making anti gay statements that spawned a boycott despite the gay icon denying the accusations.
Prior to making her musical breakthrough, Summer appeared in the German television mini series “11 Uhr 20”; she later made two other appearances; one in the movie “Thank God it’s Friday” – she also sang on the soundtrack with “Last Dance” (a song that won her her first Grammy Award) – and as Aunt Oona in a episode of “Family Matters”.
Summer went on to see her music appear in over 100 films and television shows including “The Brady Bunch Variety Hour”, “Looking for Mr. Goodbar”, “Thank God it’s Friday”, the daytime drama “Guiding Light”, “Flashdance”, “Knight Rider”, “Married with Children”, “Homicide: Life on the Street”, “Cybill”, “The Birdcage”, “Daylight”, “Family Matters”, “The Out-of-Towners”, “Friends”, “Zoolander”, the daytime drama “The Bold and the Beautiful”, “Absolutely Fabulous”, “Charlie’s Angels”, “Sex in the City”, “The Simpsons”, “Arrested Development”, “Cold Case”, “Ugly Betty”, “Entourage”, “An Englishman in New York”, “The Firm”, “Parks and Recreation”, “Hereos”, music reality competitions, her own specials, and award shows.
Summer is survived by her husband Bruce Sudano, daughters Mimi, Brooklyn, and Amanda, and granddaughter Vienna.