May 18, 2012

Donna Summer, Queen of Disco, Dies at 63

Donna Summer

ASCAP joins the music world and millions of fans in mourning the passing of Dance Music’s greatest star - our member, Donna Summer. She was 63. Summer died in Florida on May 17 after struggling with cancer. She is survived by her husband, fellow ASCAP member Bruce Sudano, and three children.

Born LaDonna Gaines in Boston, Summer grew up singing in church. She made her initial impact in the field of musical theater, performing in the early 1970s in German productions of Hair and Godspell. Working with the European songwriter/producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, Summer broke through with the frank disco classic, “Love to Love You, Baby” in 1975, followed by such smashes as “I Feel Love,” “Last Dance,” “Heaven Knows,” “Hot Stuff,” “Bad Girls,” “Dim All the Lights” and “On the Radio” - many of which she wrote or co-wrote. She also took a remake of Jimmy Webb’s “MacArthur Park” to the top of the charts in 1978. Summer returned to her hitmaking ways in 1983 with her feminist anthem, “She Works Hard for the Money.”

One of the few disco era superstars to carry on a career after the fad, Summer's work was commemorated with five Grammy awards and continues to permeate the contemporary music landscape. Inspiration from "Love To Love You Baby" can be found in Beyoncé's single, "Naughty Girl," in which she emulates Summer's sensual melodic whisper of the song's title. Red Hot Chili Peppers also made Summer's "I Feel Love" part of their live sets and their Live in Hyde Park album where Flea recreates the famous driving disco bass line under John Frusciante's falsetto. Summer's music has inspired artists across genres in samples, covers and remixes, carrying on her legacy far beyond the lights of the disco dance floor.