LaDonna Adrian Gaines (December 31, 1948 – May 17, 2012),
widely known by her stage name Donna Summer, was an American singer,
songwriter, and painter. She gained prominence during the disco era of
the late 1970s. A five-time
Grammy Award winner, Summer was the first
artist to have three consecutive double albums reach No. 1 on the
Billboard 200 chart and charted four number-one singles
in the U.S. within a 12-month period. Summer has reportedly sold over
140 million records worldwide, making her one of the world's
best-selling artists of all time. She also charted two number-one
singles on the R&B charts in the U.S. and a number-one in the
Summer earned a total of 32 hit singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100
chart in her lifetime, with 14 of those reaching the top ten. She
claimed a top 40 hit every year between 1975 and 1984, and from her
first top ten hit in 1976, to the end of 1982, she had 12 top ten hits
(10 were top five hits), more than any other act during that time
period. She returned to the Hot 100's top five in 1983, and claimed
her final top ten hit in 1989 with "This Time I Know It's for Real".
Her most recent Hot 100 hit came in 1999 with "I Will Go With You (Con
Te Partiro)". While her fortunes on the Hot 100 waned through those
decades, Summer remained a force on the U.S. Dance/Club Play Songs
chart over her entire career.
While influenced by the counterculture of the 1960s, Summer became the
lead singer of a psychedelic rock band named Black Crow and moved to
New York City. Joining a touring version of the musical Hair, she left
New York and spent several years living, acting, and singing in
Europe, where she met music producers
Giorgio Moroder and Pete
Summer returned to the U.S., in 1975 after the commercial success of
the song "Love to Love You Baby", which was followed by a string of
other hits, such as "I Feel Love", "Last Dance", "MacArthur Park",
"Heaven Knows", "Hot Stuff", "Bad Girls", "Dim All the Lights", "No
More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" (duet with Barbra Streisand), and "On
the Radio". She became known as the "Queen of Disco", while her music
gained a global following.
Summer died on May 17, 2012, from lung cancer, at her home in Naples,
Florida. In her obituary in The Times, she was described as the
"undisputed queen of the Seventies disco boom" who reached the status
of "one of the world's leading female singers." Giorgio Moroder
described Summer's work with him on the song "I Feel Love" as "really
the start of electronic dance" music. In 2013, Summer was inducted
into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In December 2016, Billboard
Magazine ranked her as the 6th most successful dance artist of
1 Early life
2 Music career
2.1 1974–1979: Initial success
2.4 1990–1999: Mistaken Identity, acting, and Live & More Encore
2.5 2000–2009: Later recordings and Crayons
2.6 2010–2013: Final recordings
4 Personal life
7 Concert tours
10 Awards and nominations
12 External links
LaDonna Adrian Gaines was born on December 31, 1948 in Boston,
Massachusetts, to Andrew and Mary Gaines, and was one of seven
children. She was raised in the
Boston neighborhood of Mission
Hill. Her father was a butcher and her mother was a schoolteacher.
Summer's performance debut occurred at church when she was ten years
old, replacing a vocalist who failed to show up.
She later attended Boston's Jeremiah E. Burke High School where she
performed in school musicals and was considered popular. In 1967,
just weeks before graduation, Donna left for New York where she joined
the blues rock band Black Crow. After they were passed on by a record
label that was only interested in the band's lead singer, the band
agreed to break up. Summer stayed in New York and auditioned for a
role in the counterculture musical, Hair. She landed the part of
Sheila, and agreed to take the role in the
Munich production of the
show, moving there after getting her parents' reluctant approval.
Summer eventually became fluent in German, singing various songs in
that language, and participated in the musicals Ich bin ich (the
German version of The Me Nobody Knows), Godspell, and Show Boat.
Within three years, she moved to Vienna, Austria, and joined the
Vienna Volksoper. She briefly toured with an ensemble vocal group
called FamilyTree, the creation of producer Günter "Yogi" Lauke. In
1968, Summer released (as Donna Gaines) on Polydor her first single, a
German version of the title "Aquarius" from the musical Hair, followed
in 1971 by a second single, a remake of the Jaynetts' 1963 hit, "Sally
Go 'Round the Roses", from a one-off European deal with Decca
Records. In 1969, she issued the single "If You Walkin' Alone" on
Donna married Austrian actor Helmuth Sommer in 1973, and gave birth to
their daughter (called Mimi) Natalia Pia Melanie Sommer, the same
year. She provided backing vocals for producer-keyboardist Veit Marvos
on his Ariola Records release Nice to See You, credited as "Gayn
Pierre". Several subsequent singles included Donna performing with the
group, and the name "Gayn Pierre" was used while performing in
Godspell with Helmuth Sommer during 1972.
1974–1979: Initial success
This article may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that
may only interest a specific audience. Please help by spinning off or
relocating any relevant information, and removing excessive detail
that may be against's inclusion policy. (December 2014)
(Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Summer in a recording studio in September 1977
While working as a model part-time and back up singer in Munich,
Summer met German-based producers
Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte
during a recording session for
Three Dog Night
Three Dog Night at Musicland Studios.
The trio forged a working partnership, and Donna was signed to their
Oasis label in 1974. A demo tape of Summer's work with Moroder and
Bellotte led to a deal with the European-distributed label Groovy
Records. Due to an error on the record cover, Donna Sommer became
Donna Summer; the name stuck. Summer's first album was Lady of the
Night. It became a hit in the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Belgium
on the strength of two songs, "The Hostage" and the title track "Lady
of the Night". "The Hostage" reached the top of the charts in France,
but was removed from radio playlists in Germany because of the song's
subject matter; a high ranking politician had recently been kidnapped
and held for ransom.
In 1975, Summer passed on an idea for a song to Moroder who was
working with another artist; a song that would be called "Love to Love
You". Summer and Moroder wrote the song together, and together they
worked on a demo version with Summer singing the song. Moroder decided
that Summer's version should be released. Seeking an American release
for the song, it was sent to
Casablanca Records president Neil Bogart.
Bogart played the song at one of his extravagant industry parties,
where it was so popular with the crowd, they insisted that it be
played over and over, each time it ended. Bogart requested that
Moroder produce a longer version for discothèques. Moroder, Bellotte,
and Summer returned with a 17-minute version. Bogart tweaked the title
to "Love to Love You Baby", and Casablanca signed Summer, releasing
the single in November 1975. The shorter 7" version of the single was
promoted by radio stations, while clubs regularly played the 17 minute
version (the longer version would also appear on the album).
By early 1976, "Love to Love You Baby" had reached No. 2 on the U.S.
Billboard Hot 100
Billboard Hot 100 chart and had become a Gold single, while the album
had sold over a million copies. The song generated controversy due to
Summer's moans and groans, and some American stations, like those in
Europe with the initial release, refused to play it. Despite this,
"Love to Love You Baby" found chart success in several European
countries, and made the Top 5 in the United Kingdom despite the BBC
ban. Casablanca wasted no time releasing the album A Love Trilogy,
featuring "Try Me, I Know We Can Make It" No. 80 and Summer's
remarkable rendition of Barry Manilow's "Could It Be Magic" No. 52,
which was followed by Four Seasons of Love, which spawned the singles
"Spring Affair" No. 58 and "Winter Melody", No. 43. Both albums went
In 1977, Summer released the concept album I Remember Yesterday. The
song "I Feel Love", reached No. 6 on the Hot 100 chart. and No. 1 in
the UK. She received her first
American Music Award
American Music Award nomination for
Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist. The single would attain Gold
status and the album went Platinum in the U.S. Another concept album,
also released in 1977, was Once Upon a Time, a double album which told
of a modern-day
Cinderella "rags to riches" story. This album would
attain Gold status. Summer recorded the song "Down Deep Inside" as the
theme song for the 1977 film The Deep. In 1978, Summer acted in the
film Thank God It's Friday, the film met with modest success; the song
"Last Dance", reached No. 3 on the Hot 100. The soundtrack and single
both went Gold and resulted in Summer winning her first Grammy Award,
for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. Its writer, Paul Jabara,
won both an
Academy Award and
Golden Globe Award
Golden Globe Award for the composition.
Summer also had "With Your Love" and "Je t'aime... moi non plus", on
the soundtrack. Her version of the
Jimmy Webb ballad, "MacArthur
Park", became her first No. 1 hit on the Hot 100 chart. It was also
the only No. 1 hit for songwriter Jimmy Webb; the single went Gold and
topped the charts for three weeks. She received a Grammy nomination
for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. The song was featured on
Summer's first live album, Live and More, which also became her first
album to hit number one on the U.S.
Billboard 200 chart and went
double-Platinum, selling over 2 million copies. The week of November
11, 1978, Summer became the first female artist of the modern rock era
to have the No. 1 single on the Hot 100 and album on the Billboard
200 charts, simultaneously. The song "Heaven Knows", which
featured Brooklyn Dreams singer Joe "Bean" Esposito; reached No. 4 on
the Hot 100 and became another Gold single.
In 1979, Summer won three
American Music Awards
American Music Awards for Single, Album and
Female Artist, in the
Disco category at the awards held in January.
Summer performed at the world-televised Music for UNICEF Concert,
joining contemporaries such as ABBA, Olivia Newton-John, the Bee Gees,
Andy Gibb, Rod Stewart, John Denver, Earth, Wind & Fire, Rita
Kris Kristofferson for a TV special that raised funds and
awareness for the world's children. Artists donated royalties of
certain songs, some in perpetuity, to benefit the cause. Summer began
work on her next project with Moroder and Bellotte, Bad Girls.
Mororder brought in Harold Faltermeyer, with whom he had collaborated
on the soundtrack of film Midnight Express, to be the album's
arranger. Faltermeyer's role would significantly increase from
arranger, as he played keyboards and wrote songs with Summer.[citation
The album went triple-Platinum, spawning the number-one hits "Hot
Stuff" and "Bad Girls", that went Platinum, and the number-two "Dim
All the Lights" which went Gold. The week of June 16, 1979, Summer
would again have the number-one single on the Hot 100 chart, and the
number-one album on the
Billboard 200 chart; when "Hot Stuff" regained
the top spot on the Hot 100 chart. The following week, "Bad Girls"
would be on top of the U.S. Top R&B albums chart, "Hot Stuff"
remained at No. 1, and "Bad Girls", the single, would climb into the
top five on the Hot 100. The following week, Summer was the first solo
artist to have two songs in the Hot 100 top three at the same time. In
July 1979, Summer topped the Hot 100 singles chart, and the Billboard
200 albums chart, and the Soul singles chart simultaneously. In the
week of November 10, 1979, "Dim All the Lights" peaked at No. 2 for
two weeks; the following week "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)" would
get to No. 3; and once again Summer would have two songs in the top 3,
on the Hot 100. One week later, "No More Tears" climbed to No. 1 spot
on the Hot 100 chart, and "Dim All the Lights" went to No. 4; she
again had two songs in the top 5 of the Hot 100 chart. In the span of
eight months, Summer had topped both the singles and albums charts
simultaneously, three times. She became the first Female Artist to
have three number-one singles in a calendar year. With "Mac Arthur
Park", "Hot Stuff", "Bad Girls", and the Barbra Streisand-duet "No
More Tears (Enough is Enough)", Summer achieved four number-one hits
on the Hot 100 chart within a 12-month period. Including "Heaven
Knows" and "Dim All the Lights" she had achieved six top 4 singles on
the Hot 100 chart in the same 12-month period. Those songs, along with
"Last Dance", "On the Radio", and "The Wanderer", would give her nine
Top 5 singles on the Hot 100 chart in just over a two-year period. The
single, "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)" would sell over 2 million
copies becoming a Platinum success. "Hot Stuff" won her a Grammy Award
in the Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, the first time the category
was included. She was nominated for the
Grammy Award for Album of the
Year and both
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Female
R&B Vocal Performance, as well as Best
Disco Recording. That year,
Summer played eight sold-out nights at the
Universal Amphitheater in
Casablanca then released On the Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes I &
II, her first (international) greatest hits set, in 1979. The album
was mixed differently than the original songs issued on it, with each
song segueing into the next, and included two new songs "On the Radio"
and "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)". It would be the first time
that such an album package would be made. The album went No. 1, her
third consecutive No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, and gained
double-Platinum status. "On the Radio", reached No. 5, selling over a
million copies in the U.S. alone, making it a Gold single. Summer
would again receive a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal
Summer received four nominations for 1980 American Music Awards, and
took home awards for Female Pop/Rock and Female Soul/R&B Artist;
and well as Pop/Rock single for "Bad Girls". Just over a week after
the awards, Donna had her own nationally televised special, The Donna
Summer Special, which aired on ABC network on January 27, 1980.
After the release of the
On the Radio album, Summer wanted to branch
out into other musical styles, which led to tensions between her and
Casablanca Records. Casablanca wanted her to continue to record disco
only. Summer was upset with President
Neil Bogart over the early
release of the single "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)"; she had
penned "Dim All the Lights" alone, and was hoping for a number-one hit
as a songwriter. Not waiting until "Dim All the Lights" had peaked, or
at least another month as promised; Summer felt it had detracted from
the singles chart momentum. Summer and the label parted ways in 1980,
and she signed with Geffen Records, the new label started by David
Geffen. Summer had filed a 10-million-dollar suit against Casablanca;
the label counter-sued. In the end, she did not receive any money, but
won the rights to her own lucrative song publishing.
Summer's first Geffen album, The Wanderer, featured an eclectic
mixture of sounds, bringing elements of rock, rockabilly, new wave and
gospel music. The Wanderer was rushed to market. The producers of the
album wanted more production time. The album continued Summer's streak
of Gold albums with the title track peaking at No. 3 on the Hot 100
chart. Its follow-up singles were, "Cold Love" No.33 and "Who Do You
Think You're Foolin'", No.40. Donna was nominated for Best Female
Rock Vocal Performance for "Cold Love", and Best Inspirational
Performance for "I Believe in Jesus" at the 1981 Grammy Awards.
She would soon be working on her next album. It was to be another
double album set. When
David Geffen stopped by the studio for a
preview, he was warned that it was a work in progress, but it was
almost done. That was a mistake, because only a few tracks had been
finished, and most of them were in demo phase. He heard enough to tell
producers that it was not good enough; the project was canceled. It
would be released years later in 1996, under the title I'm a
Over the years, a few of the tracks would be released. The song
"Highway Runner" appears on the soundtrack for the film Fast Times at
Ridgemont High. "Romeo" appears on the
Flashdance soundtrack. Both,
"I'm a Rainbow" and "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" would be on her 1993
David Geffen hired top R&B and pop producer
Quincy Jones to produce Summer's next album, the eponymously titled
Donna Summer. The album took over six months to record as Summer, who
was pregnant at the time, found it hard to sing. During the recording
of the project,
Neil Bogart died of cancer in May 1982 at age 39.
Summer would sing at his funeral. The album included the top ten hit
"Love Is in Control (Finger on the Trigger)"; for which she received a
Grammy nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. Donna was
also nominated for
Best Female Rock Vocal Performance
Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for
"Protection", penned for her by Bruce Springsteen. Other singles
included "State of Independence" (No. 41 pop) and "The Woman in Me"
(No. 33 pop).
Geffen Records were notified by
Polygram Records who now
owned Casablanca, that Donna still needed to deliver them one more
album to fulfill her contract with them.
Summer recorded and delivered the album She Works Hard for the Money
and Polygram released it on its Mercury imprint in 1983. The title
song became a major hit, reaching No. 3 on the US Hot 100, as well as
No. 1 on Billboard's R&B chart for three weeks. It also garnered
Summer another Grammy nomination, for Best Female Pop Vocal
Performance. "Unconditional Love", which featured the British group
Musical Youth, and "Love Has a Mind of Its Own" did not crack the top
40. The album itself was certified Gold, and climbed to No. 9 on the
Billboard 200 chart; the highest chart position of any female artist
in male-dominated 1983. The song "He's a Rebel" would win Summer her
third Grammy Award, this time for Best Inspirational
British director Brian Grant was hired to direct Summer's video for
"She Works Hard for the Money". The video was a success, being
MTV Music Video Awards for Best Female Video and Best
Choreography; Summer became one of the first black artists, and the
first African-American Female Artist to have her video played in heavy
rotation on MTV. Grant would also be hired to direct Summer's Costa
HBO concert special, A Hot Summers Night. Grant who was a fan of
State of Independence
State of Independence had an idea for a grand finale. He
wanted a large chorus of children to join Summer on stage at the
ending of the song. His team looked for local school children in
Orange County, to create a chorus of 500 students. On the final day of
rehearsals, the kids turned up and they had a full rehearsal.
According to Grant, "It looked and sounded amazing. It was a very
emotional, very tearful experience for everyone who was there." He
thought if this was that kind of reaction in rehearsal, then what an
impact it would have in the concert. After the rehearsal Grant was
informed that he could not use the kids because the concert would end
after 10 pm; children could not be licensed to be on stage at such a
late hour (California had strict child labor laws in 1983). "It's a
moment that I regret immensely: a grand finale concept I came up with
that couldn't be filmed in the end". When the final sequence was
filmed, Summer's daughter Mimi and her family members joined her on
stage for "State of Independence".
In late 1984,
David Geffen enlisted She Works Hard for the Money's
Michael Omartian to produce Cats Without Claws. Summer was
happy that Geffen and his executives stayed out of the studio during
the recording and thanked him in the album's liner notes, but her
request for the lead single would be rejected. The album failed to
attain Gold status in the U.S., her first album not to do so. It
was first album not to yield a top ten hit, since 1977's Once Upon a
The Drifters cover "There Goes My Baby" reached No. 21 and
"Supernatural Love" went to No. 75. She would win another Grammy for
Best Inspirational Performance for the song "Forgive Me".
On January 19, 1985, she sang at the nationally televised 50th
Presidential Inaugural Gala the day before the second inauguration of
Harold Faltermeyer wrote the title song for a German ski
movie called Fire and Ice, and thought Summer would be ideal to sing
the song. He decided to reach out to Summer and, although she was not
interested in singing the song, she was very much interested in
working with Faltermeyer again. After a meeting with
David Geffen he
was on board with the project. Summer's main objective for the album
was that it have stronger R&B influences; Faltermeyer who had just
finished doing the soundtracks to
Top Gun and Fletch, was after a
tough FM-oriented sound. On completion, Geffen liked what he heard,
but his executives did not think there were enough songs that could be
deemed singles. They wanted Faltermeyer to produce "Dinner with
Gershwin", but he was already busy with another project, so another
producer was found. They also substituted a previous recording called
"Bad Reputation", songs like "Fascination", fell by the wayside.
Geffen had shared the vision of moving Summer into the R&B market
as a veteran artist, but these expectations were not met. Faltermeyer,
in a 2012 interview with Daeida Magazine, said, "She was an older
artist by then and the label's priority may have been on the youth
market. The decision was made afterward by executives who were looking
for a radio hit for 1987 and not something that would perhaps last
beyond then." The label's President Ed Rosenblatt would later
admit: "The company never intended to focus on established
superstars". The album All Systems Go, did not achieve Gold
status. The single "Dinner with Gershwin" (written by Brenda Russell)
stalled at 48 in the US, though it became a hit in the UK, peaking at
No. 13. The album's title track, "All Systems Go", was released only
in the UK, where it peaked at No. 54.
For Summer's next album,
Geffen Records hired the British hit
production team of
Stock Aitken Waterman (or SAW), who enjoyed
incredible success writing and producing for such acts as Kylie
Minogue, Bananarama, and Rick Astley, among others. The "SAW" team
describe the working experience as a labour of love, and said it was
their favourite album of all that they had recorded. Geffen decided
not to release the album Another Place and Time, and Summer and Geffen
Records parted ways in 1988. The album was released in Europe in March
1989 on Warner Bros. Records, which had been Summer's label in Europe
since 1982. The single "This Time I Know It's for Real" became a top
ten hit in several countries in Europe, prompting Warner Bros.' sister
company, Atlantic Records, to sign Summer in the U.S. The single
peaked at No. 7 on the US Hot 100 and became her 12th Gold single in
America. She scored two more UK hits from the album, "I Don't Wanna
Get Hurt" (UK No. 7) and "Love's About to Change My Heart" (UK No.
In 1989, Summer and her husband, Bruce Sudano, had been in talks to do
a new kind of reality-based sitcom. It would be based on their own
hectic household. At the time, they lived with their children Amanda,
Brooklyn and Mimi, two sets of in-laws, and a maid. The television
network started changing the premise of the show, making it less
funny, says Sudano, "And because we were an interracial couple, they
didn't want us to be married anymore". In 1989, this was "an issue. So
with that mentality we just backed out of it."
It was also during this period that Summer started to have gallery
showings of her paintings. Rick Solomon, chairman of Fine Circle Art,
was impressed by the brash colors and images of Summer's work. "I've
been in business for 26 years," he said, "...Donna has her own
style... she is no Sunday painter. Oh, some critics have felt it
necessary to knock her. It's just that old thing, I suppose – not
being able to accept the idea that a singer can also be a
1990–1999: Mistaken Identity, acting, and Live & More
In 1990, a Warner compilation, The Best of Donna Summer, was released
(No U.S. issue). The album went Gold in the UK after the song "State
of Independence" was re-released there to promote the album. The
following year, Summer worked with producer Keith Diamond emerged with
the album Mistaken Identity, which included elements of R&B as
well as new jack swing. "When Love Cries" continued her success on the
R&B charts, reaching No. 18. In 1992, Summer embarked on a world
tour and later that year received a star on the Hollywood Walk of
Fame. She reunited with Giorgio Moroder, for the song "Carry On",
which was included on the 1993, Polygram issued The Donna Summer
Anthology, it contained 34 tracks of Summer's material with Casablanca
and Mercury Records, and from her tenures with Atlantic and
Summer signed with Mercury/Polygram that same year, and in 1994 she
re-teamed with producer
Michael Omartian to record a Christmas album,
Christmas Spirit, which included classic Christmas songs such as "O
Holy Night" and "White Christmas" and three Summer-penned
songs,"Christmas is Here", "Lamb of God" and the album's title track.
Summer was accompanied by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. Another
hits collection, Endless Summer: Greatest Hits, was released featuring
eighteen songs. There were two new tracks "Melody of Love (Wanna Be
Loved)" and "Any Way at All". In 1995, "Melody of Love (Wanna Be
Loved)" went No. 1 on the US dance charts, and No. 21 in the UK.
During this time, Summer had role on the sitcom
Family Matters as
Steve Urkel's (Jaleel White) Aunt Oona. She made a few appearances in
1997. In 1998, Summer received the first
Grammy Award for Best Dance
Recording, after a remixed version of her 1992 collaboration with
Giorgio Moroder, "Carry On", was released in 1997. In 1999, Summer was
asked to do the Divas 2 concert, but when she went in and met with the
producers, it was decided that they would do Donna in concert by
herself. Summer taped a live television special for
VH1 titled Donna
Summer – Live & More Encore, producing the second highest
ratings for the network that year, after their annual Divas special. A
CD of the event was released by
Epic Records and featured two studio
recordings, "I Will Go with You (Con te partirò)" and "Love Is the
Healer", both of which reached No. 1 on the U.S. dance charts.
2000–2009: Later recordings and Crayons
Summer in 2005
In 2000, Summer participated in VH1's third annual Divas special,
dedicated to Diana Ross, she sang the Supreme's hit Reflections, and
her own material for the show. "The Power of One" is a theme song for
the movie Pokémon: The Movie 2000. The dramatic ballad was produced
David Foster and dance remixes were also issued to DJs and became
another dance floor success for Summer, peaking at No. 2 on the same
chart in 2000. In 2003, Summer issued her autobiography, Ordinary
Girl: The Journey, and released a best-of set titled The Journey: The
Very Best of Donna Summer. In 2004, Summer was inducted into the Dance
Music Hall of Fame as an artist, alongside the
Bee Gees and Barry
Gibb. Her classic song, "I Feel Love", was inducted that night as
well. In 2004 and 2005, Summer's success on the dance charts continued
with the songs "You're So Beautiful" and "I Got Your Love".
In 2008, Summer released her first studio album of fully original
material in 17 years, entitled Crayons. Released on the
Sony BMG label
Burgundy Records, it peaked at No. 17 on the U.S. Top 200 Album Chart,
her highest placing on the chart since 1983. The songs I'm a Fire,
Stamp Your Feet
Stamp Your Feet and
Fame (The Game)
Fame (The Game) all reached No. 1 on the U.S.
Dance Chart. The ballad Sand on My Feet was released to
adult contemporary stations and reached No. 30 on that chart. Summer
said, "I wanted this album to have a lot of different directions on
it. I did not want it to be any one baby. I just wanted it to be a
sampler of flavors and influences from all over the world. There's a
touch of this, a little smidgeon of that, a dash of something else,
like when you're cooking."
2010–2013: Final recordings
On July 29, 2010, Summer gave an interview with Allvoices.com wherein
she was asked if she would consider doing an album of standards. She
said, "I actually am, probably in September. I will begin work on a
standards album. I will probably do an all-out dance album and a
standards album. I'm going to do both and we will release them however
we're going to release them. We are not sure which is going
In August 2010, Summer released the single "To Paris With Love",
co-written with Bruce Roberts and produced by Peter Stengaard. The
single went to No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard
Dance Chart in October
2010. That month, Summer also appeared on the
PBS television special
David Foster and Friends. In it, Summer performed with
Seal on a medley of the songs "
Un-Break My Heart
Un-Break My Heart / Crazy / On the
Radio" before closing the show with "Last Dance".
On September 15, 2010, Summer appeared as a guest celebrity, singing
alongside contestant Prince Poppycock, on the television show
America's Got Talent.
On June 6, 2011, Summer was a guest judge on the show Platinum Hit, in
an episode entitled "
Dance Floor Royalty". In July of that same year,
Summer was working at Paramount Recording Studios in
Los Angeles with
her nephew, the rapper and producer O'Mega Red. Together they worked
on a track titled "Angel".
On December 11, 2012, after four prior nominations, Summer was
posthumously announced to be one of the 2013 inductees to the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame., and was inducted on April 18, 2013, at Los
Angeles' Nokia Theater.
A remix album titled Love To Love You Donna, containing new remixes of
some of Summer's classics, was released in October 2013.
"MacArthur Park" was remixed by
Laidback Luke for the remix
collection; it was also remixed by Ralphi Rosario, which version was
released to dance clubs all over America and successfully peaked at
No. 1, giving Summer her first posthumous number-one single, and her
twentieth number-one on the charts.
In the mid-1980s, Summer was embroiled in a controversy. She allegedly
had made anti-gay remarks regarding the then-relatively new disease,
AIDS. Summer, by this time a born-again Christian, was alleged to have
said that AIDS was a punishment from God for the immoral lifestyles of
homosexuals. Because of this alleged statement, thousands of
her records were returned to her record company and she became the
target of a boycott which hurt her career. Summer publicly
denied that she had ever made any such comments, and in a letter to
the AIDS campaign group
ACT UP in 1989 said it was "a terrible
misunderstanding." In explaining why she did not respond to ACT UP
sooner, Summer stated "I was unknowingly protected by those around me
from the bad press and hate letters. If I have caused you pain,
forgive me." She closed her letter with Bible quotes (from Chapter 13
of 1 Corinthians).
Also in 1989, Summer told
The Advocate magazine that "a couple of the
people I write with are gay, and they have been ever since I met them.
What people want to do with their bodies is their personal
preference." A couple of years later, she filed a lawsuit against
New York magazine when it printed an old story about the rumors as
fact, just as she was about to release her album Mistaken Identity in
1991. According to a Biography television program dedicated to
Summer in which she participated in 1995, the lawsuit was settled out
of court, though neither side was able to divulge any details.
Summer was raised in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Summer married Austrian actor Helmuth Sommer in 1973, and gave birth
to their daughter (called Mimi) Natalia Pia Melanie Sommer the same
year. They divorced in 1976, but Summer kept the anglicized version of
her ex-husband's surname as her stage name. Summer married Brooklyn
Bruce Sudano on July 16, 1980. On January 5, 1981, she
gave birth to their daughter Brooklyn Sudano, and the next year on
August 11, 1982 their daughter
Amanda Sudano was born. In Los Angeles,
Summer was also one of the founding members of Oasis Church.
Summer and her family moved from the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles
to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1995, where she took time off from
show business to focus on painting, a hobby she had begun back in the
1980s. In 1995, Summer's mother died of pancreatic cancer; her
father died of natural causes in December 2004.
Summer's daughter Brooklyn is an actress, singer and dancer. Summer's
third and youngest daughter Amanda is one half of the musical duo
Johnnyswim alongside Abner Ramirez. The duo was launched in 2005 and
they got married in 2009.
Donna Summer in 2007 with husband
Bruce Sudano and her longtime
collaborator, Italian composer Giorgio Moroder. On the left Giorgio
Moroder's wife Francisca Gutierrez.
Summer died on May 17, 2012, at her home in Naples, Florida, aged
63. The non-smoker had been diagnosed with lung cancer,
which she believed was caused by inhaling toxic fumes and dust after
September 11 attacks
September 11 attacks in New York City.
Summer was survived by her husband, Bruce Sudano, and her daughters
Mimi (with ex-husband Helmut Sommer), Brooklyn Sudano, and Amanda
Summer's funeral service was held in Christ Presbyterian Church in
Nashville, Tennessee, on the afternoon of May 23, 2012.
The exact location and time of the service were kept secret.
Several hundred of Summer's friends and relatives appeared at the
funeral, according to CNN. The funeral was a private ceremony, and
cameras were not allowed inside the church. Guests followed the
black hearse with Summer's body to the Harpeth Hills Memory Gardens
cemetery in Nashville, where her remains were interred.
Summer's memorial made by fans in the Castro District, San Francisco
Singers and music industry professionals around the world reacted to
Gloria Gaynor said she was "deeply saddened"
and that Summer was "a fine lady and human being". Liza Minnelli
said, "She was a queen, The Queen Of Disco, and we will be dancing to
her music forever." She said that her "thoughts and prayers are with
her family always."
Dolly Parton said, "Donna, like Whitney, was
one of the greatest voices ever. I loved her records. She was the
disco queen and will remain so. I knew her and found her to be one of
the most likable and fun people ever. She will be missed and
Janet Jackson wrote that Summer "changed the world of
music with her beautiful voice and incredible talent." Barbra
Streisand wrote, "I loved doing the duet with her. She had an amazing
voice and was so talented. It's so sad."
Quincy Jones wrote that
Summer's voice was "the heartbeat and soundtrack of a generation."
Aretha Franklin said, "It's so shocking to hear about the passing of
Donna Summer. In the 70s, she reigned over the disco era and kept the
disco jumping. Who will forget 'Last Dance'? A fine performer and a
very nice person."
Chaka Khan said, "Donna and I had a friendship
for over 30 years. She is one of the few black women I could speak
German with and she is one of the few friends I had in this
Gloria Estefan averred that "It's the end of an era",
and posted a photo of herself with Summer.
Mary J. Blige
Mary J. Blige tweeted "RIP
Donna Summer !!!!!!!! You were truly a game changer !!!"
Lenny Kravitz wrote "Rest in peace Donna, You are a pioneer and you
have paved the way for so many of us. You transcended race and genre.
Beyoncé penned a personal note: "
Donna Summer made music that moved
me both emotionally and physically to get up and dance. You could
always hear the deep passion in her voice. She was so much more than
the queen of disco she became known for, she was an honest and gifted
singer with flawless vocal talent. I've always been a huge fan and was
honored to sample one of her songs. She touched many generations and
will be sadly missed. My love goes out to her family during this
difficult time. Love, B".
David Foster said, "My wife and I are in shock and truly devastated.
Donna changed the face of pop culture forever. There is no doubt that
music would sound different today if she had never graced us with her
talent. She was a super-diva and a true superstar who never
compromised when it came to her career or her family. She always did
it with class, dignity, grace and zero attitude. She lived in rare air
... She was the most spectacular, considerate, constant, giving,
generous and loving friend of 35 years. I am at a total loss trying to
process this tragic news."
Barack Obama said, "Michelle and I were saddened to
hear about the passing of Donna Summer. A five-time Grammy Award
winner, Donna truly was the 'Queen of Disco.' Her voice was
unforgettable and the music industry has lost a legend far too soon.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Donna's family and her dedicated
Summer was honored at the
2012 Billboard Music Awards ceremony. Singer
Natasha Bedingfield honored Summer, calling her "a remarkable woman
who brought so much light and who inspired many women, including
myself, through her music. And if we can remember her through her
music, this will never really be the last dance." After her statement,
she began to sing "Last Dance", Summer's Academy Award-winning
song. As she sang the song, photos of Summer were displayed on a
Fans paid tribute to Summer by leaving flowers and memorabilia on her
star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. A few days after her death,
her album sales increased by 3,277 percent, according to Nielsen
SoundScan. Billboard Magazine reported that the week before she died,
Summer sold about 1,000 albums. After her death that number increased
This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help
improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.
Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (June 2014) (Learn
how and when to remove this template message)
According to singer Marc Almond, Summer's collaboration with producer
Giorgio Moroder "changed the face of music". Summer was the first
artist to have three consecutive double albums reach No. 1 on
Billboard's album chart: Live and More, Bad Girls and On the Radio:
Greatest Hits Volumes I & II. She became a cultural icon and her
prominence on the dance charts, for which she was referred to as the
Queen of Disco, made her not just one of the defining voices of that
era, but also an influence on pop artists from Madonna to Beyoncé.
Unlike some other stars of disco who faded as the music became less
popular in the early 1980s, Summer was able to grow beyond the genre
and segued to a pop-rock sound. She had one of her biggest hits in the
1980s with "She Works Hard For the Money", which became another
anthem, this time for women's rights. Summer was the first black woman
to be nominated for an
MTV Video Music Award. Summer remained a force
on the Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs chart throughout her career and
notched 19 number one singles. Her last studio album, 2008's Crayons,
spun off three No. 1 dance/club hits with "I'm a Fire", "Stamp Your
Feet" and "Fame (The Game)". In May 2012, it was announced that "I
Feel Love" was included in the list of preserved recordings at the
Library of Congress' National Recording Registry. Her Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame page listed Summer as "the Diva De Tutte Dive, the
first true diva of the modern pop era".
Keri Hilson portrayed
Donna Summer in her 2010 music video for "Pretty
Girl Rock" 
Once Upon a Time Tour (1977–78)
Bad Girls Tour (1979–80)
The Wanderer Tour (1981–82)
Hard for the Money Tour (1983)
The Rainbow Tour (1984–85)
Silver Girl Tour (1986)
All Systems Go Tour (1987–88)
Mistaken Identity Tour (1991–92)
Endless Summer Tour (1995)
Mid Summer Nights Dream Tour (1996–97)
Live & More Encore Tour (1999–2000)
Greatest Hits Tour (2005–06)
Crayons Tour (2008)
Donna Summer albums discography
Donna Summer albums discography and Donna Summer
Further information: List of cover versions of
Donna Summer songs
Lady of the Night (1974)
Love to Love You Baby (1975)
A Love Trilogy
A Love Trilogy (1976)
Four Seasons of Love
Four Seasons of Love (1976)
I Remember Yesterday
I Remember Yesterday (1977)
Once Upon a Time (1977)
Live and More
Live and More (1978)
Bad Girls (1979)
On the Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes I & II (1979)
The Wanderer (1980)
I'm a Rainbow (1981; released 1996)
Donna Summer (1982)
She Works Hard for the Money
She Works Hard for the Money (1983)
Cats Without Claws
Cats Without Claws (1984)
All Systems Go (1987)
Another Place and Time
Another Place and Time (1989)
Mistaken Identity (1991)
Christmas Spirit (1994)
Live & More Encore (1999)
Notable film and television appearances
11 Uhr 20
Sängerin in Kasbah
Episode: "Tod in der Kasbah"
Thank God It's Friday
Aunt Oona Urkel
Episodes: "Aunt Oona" & "Pound Foolish"
Dance Floor Royalty"
Awards and nominations
Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Donna Summer
^ Huey, Steve. "
Donna Summer Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network.
Retrieved 14 April 2016.
^ Conner, Thomas (May 18, 2012). "Donna Summer/1948-2012 The queen of
disco dead at 63". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
^ a b "Obituaries: Donna Summer". The Times. London: News Corporation.
2012. p. 53.
^ Sherman, Catherine (May 21, 2012). "Donna Summer's Lasting (Real
Estate) Legacy". Zillow.com. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
^ "President Obama leads
Donna Summer tributes". BBC News Online. May
18, 2012. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
^ Carlson, Adam (December 11, 2012). "Public Enemy, Rush, Heart, Donna
Summer was inducted into the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 18,
2013". Music-mix.ew.com. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
^ "Greatest of All Time Top
Dance Club Artists : Page 1".
billboard.com. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
^ a b "Donna Summer". Telegraph. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
^ a b c d "
Donna Summer Biography – Facts, Birthday, Life
Story". Retrieved May 17, 2012.
^ a b c "The 60–70s". Retrieved May 17, 2012.
^ Badger, Sylvia. "Donna Summer's daughter weds amid flowers, lace".
The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
^ a b "Donna Summer". Classicbands.com. Retrieved August 20,
^ "Billboard Hot 100". Billboard. 11 November 1978.
^ Just a few weeks before
The Singing Nun
The Singing Nun topped
the Hot 100 with "Dominique" and the
Billboard 200 with "The Singing
Nun", both starting on 7 December 1963.
^ "Billboard Hot 100". Billboard. 16 June 1979.
Donna Summer Special". The New York Times.
^ "Donna Summer: too hot to handle". Telegraph. June 13, 2008.
Retrieved August 20, 2014.
^ a b Harold Faltermeyer. "Flood Of Memory: The Summer Reign On Sunset
Blvd". Retrieved May 13, 2014.
^ St. Mark, David (February 2013). "Brian Grant/Directing A Diva
(Donna Summer)". Daeida Magazine. pp. 12–16.
Donna Summer Biography". Rogallery. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
^ Anthony, Carl (11 January 2013). "Reagan's 1985 Big Chill Sunday
Inauguration". Carl Anthony Online.
^ St. Mark, David (October 2012). "
Harold Faltermeyer Flood of memory:
The Summer reign on Sunset Blvd". Daeida.com. pp. 13–28.
^ Grein, Paul (April 16, 1989). "Donna Summer: New Label, New Hit?".
Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
^ a b "Officialcharts.com". Officialcharts.com. Retrieved August 20,
^ ITV1/network/The Hit factory: The Stock, Aitken and Waterman
Story/Documentary/true story/air date 2012-08-06/
^ Telegraph.co.uk Archived July 21, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
^ Lloyd, Jack (28 July 1990). "The Art Of Donna Summer, On Canvas".
The Philadelphia Inquirer.
^ "Find a Star :: The Hollywood Walk of Fame". Hwof.com.
Retrieved August 20, 2014.
^ a b "Discussion forum... View Thread". Meetchristians.com. Retrieved
August 20, 2014.
^ "About the Performer Donna Summer". Hollywood Bowl. Los Angeles
Philharmonic Association. Retrieved 14 April 2016.
^ "Entertainment". Allvoices.com. August 10, 2014. Archived from the
original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
^ "Hitman Returns:
David Foster & Friends". Great Performances.
PBS. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
^ a b "
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Announces 2013 Inductees".
Rockhall.com. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. December 11, 2012. Retrieved
December 11, 2012.
^ "iTunes – Music – Love To Love You Donna by Donna Summer".
iTunes. October 18, 2013.
^ "Donna Summer's 'Macarthur Park 2013' Remix #1 on Billboard's Dance
Club Songs Chart – #AltSounds". Hangout.altsounds.com. December 17,
2013. Archived from the original on July 20, 2014. Retrieved August
^ "Diva Debacle". NME. October 4, 1999. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
^ Rule, Doug (2010). "Summer Heat". Metro Weekly. Archived from the
original on July 2, 2011. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
^ Jones, Steve (2012-05-18). "Donna Summer, Queen of Disco, dies at
63". USA Today. Retrieved 2013-03-22.
^ McCarthy, Tom (2012-05-17). "
Donna Summer dies of cancer at 63". The
Guardian. Retrieved 2016-07-06.
^ Kinser, Jeremy (2012-05-17). "
Donna Summer Denied Making Antigay
Remarks That Hurt Her Career". The Advocate. Retrieved
^ Company, Johnson Publishing (September 18, 1989). Gay Community
Disco Diva Donna Summer. Jet. p. 38. Retrieved July 17,
^ Groover, D.L. (2008). "Summer Fans, Some Are Not". OutSmart
magazine. Archived from the original on October 31, 2007. Retrieved
July 14, 2008.
^ Burnett, Richard (May 18, 2012). "
Donna Summer – The Queen is back
– Ottawa XPress". Ottawaxpress.ca. Retrieved August 20,
2014. [permanent dead link]
^ Ruben Norte (w/prod) (February 9, 1995). "Donna Summer". Biography.
Season 8. Episode 15. A&E.
^ A&E Networks (2012). "
Donna Summer Biography". "Bio. True Story"
(Donna Summer). Biography.com. Retrieved May 22, 2012.
^ Whdh.com Archived November 5, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
^ "Mosaic Oasis". New York Times.
^ "BBC News –
Disco star Donna Summer's funeral held". Bbc.co.uk.
May 24, 2012. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
^ Jet 1995, pp. 64.
^ Malan, Jamie. "
Johnnyswim Confirms a Fall Tour". AXS. Retrieved 22
^ Pareles, Jon (May 17, 2012). "Donna Summer, Queen of
Transcended the Era, Dies at 63". The New York Times. Retrieved May
^ James Reed (May 17, 2012). "Boston-bred pop star
Donna Summer dies
at 63". The
Boston Globe. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
^ "'Non smoker'
Donna Summer died of lung cancer". Indian Express. May
19, 2012. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
^ Hughes, Mark; Hough, Andrew (17 May 2012). "'Queen of Disco' Donna
Summer 'thought she became ill after inhaling 9/11 particles'". The
^ a b "
Donna Summer – The Funeral Program". TMZ.com. May 23, 2012.
Retrieved August 20, 2014.
^ a b "
Donna Summer laid to rest". BelfastTelegraph.co.uk. May 24,
2012. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
^ Alan Duke (May 24, 2012). "Donna Summer's friends gather for disco
queen's funeral". CNN. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
^ a b c "Donna Summer's friends gather for disco queen's funeral".
CNN. May 24, 2012.
^ Derrick Bryson Taylor (May 23, 2012). "Friends and Family Gather for
Donna Summer's Funeral". Essence. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
^ Jacob Bernstein (May 18, 2012). "Memories of Donna's
The New York Times. Retrieved May 19, 2012.
^ a b c d e f g Sinha-Roy, Piya (May 18, 2012). "Reactions to the
death of Donna Summer". Reuters.
Donna Summer dies at the age of 63 on YouTube
^ a b "Celebrities react to the death of Donna Summer". U.S. News
& World Report. Associated Press. May 17, 2012. Retrieved May 20,
^ a b Rolling Stone[dead link]
Beyoncé Says Goodbye To
Donna Summer In Personal Note".
^ "Donna Summer's Family Extinguishes Reports That
Disco Queen's Death E! Online". Ca.eonline.com. Retrieved August 20,
^ "Statement by the President on the Passing of
Donna Summer The
White House". Whitehouse.gov. May 17, 2012. Retrieved August 20,
^ a b MSNBC Archived May 24, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
Los Angeles Times Archived May 21, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
^ ABC News Radio (May 14, 2012). "Donna Summer's Album Sales Increase
by More than 3,000%". ABC News Radio. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
^ "Digital Spy". Retrieved 20 May 2012.
Donna Summer and the Grateful Dead Added to National Recording
Registry". The New York Times. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
Donna Summer Biography". Rockhall.com. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Retrieved December 13, 2012.
^ "Donna Summer's Legacy: A Pop-Culture Guide".
MTV News. Retrieved
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Donna Summer.
Wikinews has related news:
Donna Summer dies at 63
Book: Donna Summer
Donna Summer on IMDb
Donna Summer at the TCM Movie Database
Donna Summer at Find a Grave
Donna Summer collected news and commentary". The New York
Donna Summer collected news and commentary". The Guardian.
Works by or about
Donna Summer in libraries (
Lady of the Night
Love to Love You Baby
A Love Trilogy
Four Seasons of Love
I Remember Yesterday
Once Upon A Time
I'm a Rainbow
She Works Hard for the Money
Cats Without Claws
All Systems Go
Another Place and Time
Live and More
Live & More Encore
On the Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes I & II
The Summer Collection: Greatest Hits
Dance Collection: A Compilation of Twelve Inch Singles
Donna Summer Anthology
The Ultimate Collection (2003)
The Journey: The Very Best of Donna Summer
The Ultimate Collection (2016)
"Love to Love You Baby"
"I Feel Love"
"Dim All the Lights"
"No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)"
"On the Radio"
"Love Is in Control (Finger on the Trigger)"
"She Works Hard for the Money"
"This Time I Know It's for Real"
Once Upon a Time Tour
Bad Girls Tour
The Wanderer Tour
Hard for the Money Tour
Silver Girl Tour
All Systems Go Tour
Live & More Encore Tour
Greatest Hits Tour
Joe "Bean" Esposito
"Down Deep Inside"
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2013
Non-performers (Ahmet Ertegun Award)
Bob Horn (1952–1956)
Tony Mammarella (1956)
Dick Clark (1956–1989)
Donna Summer (May 27, 1978 co-host)
David Hirsch (1989)
Rick Azar (substitute host)
Joe Grady (The 950 Club)
Buster Jones (Soul Unlimited)
Charlie O'Donnell (1958-1969)
Edward Yates (1952-1969)
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Dick Clark Productions (1964–1989)
WFIL-TV's Studio 'B' (October 7, 1952-1964)
ABC Television Center in
Los Angeles (Stage 54 or Stage 55) (February
8, 1964-September 5, 1987)
KCET's Studio B (September 19, 1987-June 4, 1988)
Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Hollywood (April 8, 1989-October 7, 1989)
Children's programming on ABC
USA Network (1989)
Theme music composers
Artie Shaw ("High Society")
Larry Elgart ("Bandstand Boogie")
Mike Curb ("Bandstand Theme")
Joe Porter ("Bandstand Boogie")
Barry Manilow ("Bandstand Boogie")
Billy Preston ("Space Race")
Dick Clark Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show (February 15,
1958–September 10, 1960)
Soul Unlimited (1973)
The Buddy Deane Show
The Clay Cole Show
Top of the Pops
List of acts who appeared on American Bandstand
ISNI: 0000 0001 3272 9275
BNF: cb13900180w (data)