Donna Summer

Posted in Music by chamblee54 on May 17, 2012

Donna Summer passed away today. Breast cancer claimed another soul.
LaDonna Adrian Gaines was born December 31, 1948, in Boston MA. As a young lady, she moved to Germany, and performed in a production of Hair. She married Helmuth Sommer in 1972, and kept the name, with a vowel adjustment, after the divorce. At some point, she met Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. Lightning was about to strike.
Wikipedia tells the tale.
“In 1975, Summer approached Moroder with an idea for a song she and Bellotte were working on for another singer. She had come up with the lyric “love to love you, baby”. Moroder was interested in developing the new sound that was becoming popular and used Summer’s lyric to develop the song. Moroder persuaded Summer to record what was to be a demo track for another performer. She later said that she had thought of how the song might sound if Marilyn Monroe had sung it and began cooing the lyrics. To get into the mood of recording the song, she requested Moroder turn off the lights while they sat on a sofa with him inducing her moans and groans. After hearing playback of the song, Moroder felt Summer’s version should actually be released. Although some radio stations refused to play it due to its suggestive style, “Love to Love You” found chart success in several European countries, and made the Top 5 in the United Kingdom.
The song was then sent to Casablanca Records president Neil Bogart in hopes of getting an American release. Bogart informed Summer and Moroder he would release the song (now called “Love to Love You Baby”) but requested that Moroder produce a longer version for discothèques. Moroder, Bellotte, and Summer returned with a 17 minute version and Casablanca signed Summer and released the single in November 1975. The shorter version of the single was promoted to radio stations whilst clubs (mostly gay) regularly played the 17 minute version (the longer version would also appear on the album). Casablanca became one of the first record labels to popularize the 12″ single format. By early 1976, “Love To Love You Baby” had reached #2 on the US Billboard Hot 100, while the parent album of the same name sold over a million copies. The song generated controversy due to Summer’s moans and groans and some American radio stations, like several in Europe, refused to play it. Time magazine would report that 22 orgasms were simulated in the making of the song.”

Miss Summer was the right voice, at the right time, and the right place. Disco music was a snowball rolling downhill, gaining recruits every Saturday night. Mr. Moroder was an electronic wizard, creating a compelling sound. Whether another singer could have created the magic that Donna Summer did is a good question. One thing is not in doubt: the Summer-Moroder team was a disco hit machine.
It was more than just the music. As JoemyG-d notes:
“Donna Summer came to fame at a magical time in the development of popular gay culture. No longer were our bars exclusively confined to unlit, unsigned, shabby doorways on shadowy streets. Those places still existed, to be sure. But in the bigger cities, often to the tune of Donna Summer records, gay men, many for the first ever, proudly crowded into giant, glittery, celebratory, and gleefully unrestrained discos.”
Getting back to Wikipedia ,
“Summer had often talked about her early successful years as a period of confusion and anxiety. By mid-1977, struggling with the media’s titles of her as the first lady of love, she began suffering from depression and started having anxiety attacks. Summer has written in her memoirs that she had attempted suicide a few times. Her rapid rise to success, combined with some serious regrets about mistakes in her personal life, began to take its toll. During this time, she self-medicated on prescription medication resulting in an addiction. Following a nervous breakdown at her home in 1979, Summer went to a local church attended with her sister Dara and declared herself a born again Christian.”
It is probable that Miss Summer was part of a hit machine, and had little control over the direction that it took. Keep this in mind when you read the next part of this story. Remember all the happy times that her studio songs gave people.
On Easter Sunday 1978, Donna Summer gave a show at the Atlanta Civic Center. PG was in the audience. Someone had the idea to present Miss Summer as a Las Vegas style revue. There was a horn section, backup singers, and a big band sound. The punchy electronic sound of the records was not there. PG was disappointed.
There was a song, “Try Me, I Know We Can Make It.” In the studio version, Miss Summer hits a high note, and holds it for a while. In concert, her backup singers sang that part. Looking back, that just means that it was real. Today, they would play a tape, and no one would know the difference.
Pictures are from The Library of Congress.

3 Responses

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  1. Jimmy Crack Corn « Chamblee54 said, on July 25, 2012 at 11:20 am

    […] a duh classic. In the spirit of stupidity convergence, the video is a karaoke version featuring Donna Summer . Miss Summer is a talented singer, who happened to connect with Giorgio Moroder. There are lots of […]

  2. Blue Tail Fly | Chamblee54 said, on July 20, 2013 at 6:52 am

    […] ditty a duh classic. In the spirit of corny convergence, the video is a karaoke version featuring Donna Summer . Miss Summer is a talented singer, who happened to connect with Giorgio Moroder. There are lots of […]

  3. Blue Tail Fly | Chamblee54 said, on July 25, 2014 at 4:12 am

    […] ditty a duh classic. In the spirit of corny convergence, the video is a karaoke version featuring Donna Summer . Miss Summer is a talented singer, who happened to connect with Giorgio Moroder. Lots of singers […]

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