by Tony Johnson
LaDonna Adrian Gaines aka Donna Summer (December 31, 1948 – May 17, 2012)
The pop music world was stunned by the death of Donna Summer, the original “Disco Queen” who over four decades proved that she and her music were stars, not fads.
She was 63 and reportedly had been suffering from lung cancer, although she had continued performing until recently.
Summer had a string of worldwide hits in the late 1970s, including “I Feel Love,” “Hot Stuff,” “Bad Girls,” “On the Radio, “MacArthur Park,” “No More Tears” and “Last Dance.”
She was labeled a disco artist and while she always resisted that term, her career cooled down when a disco backlash formed around 1979.
But her music endured and more than 30 years later is still played on dance and classic hits stations. She had been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — but not chosen, something pal Elton John raged against Thursday.
“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,” he said. “She is a great friend to me and to the Elton John AIDS Foundation and I will miss her greatly.”
“She was the face of the disco movement,” says Jeff Foxx, afternoon host on WBLS. “But she bridged dance music and R&B. It may have been called disco, but there was some funky stuff going on.
“You’ll still never find a better song than ‘Last Dance’ to end any concert. The chord progression, her singing – wow.”
“Even after that disco ‘backlash,’ Donna Summer’s music was huge,” says Joel Salkowitz, who programmed the original dance radio station Hot-103 and others. “We did a show at Roseland Ballroom with Paul Shaffer’s orchestra backing her and she absolutely killed. They may have put a lot of production behind her music, but she could sing.
“This is a tremendous loss.”
Summer is survived by her husband Bruce Sudano, their daughters Brooklyn and Amanda, as well as her daughter Mimi from her previous marriage.
Information Source: NY Daily News
Copyright 2012 – Tony Johnson. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.