From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"In the summer of 1974, Donna Summer approached producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte with an idea for a song. A re-issued 45 of "Je t'aime... moi non plus" by Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg was back on the charts, prompting Summer to pen her own 'racy' song. She had come up with the lyric "love to love you, baby" as the possible title for the song." --Sholem Stein
LaDonna Adrian Gaines (December 31, 1948 – May 17, 2012), known by the stage name Donna Summer, was an American singer/songwriter who gained prominence during the disco era of the 1970s. She had a mezzo-soprano vocal range, and was a five-time Grammy Award winner. Summer was the first artist to have three consecutive double albums reach number one on the US Billboard chart, and she also charted four number-one singles in the United States within a 13-month period. Summer has reportedly sold over 130 million records, making her one of the world's best-selling artists of all time.
While influenced by the counterculture of the 1960s, she became the front singer of a psychedelic rock band named 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 Bellotte.
She returned to the United States, in 1975 with mass commercial success of the song Love to Love You Baby. Over the following years Summer followed this success with 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)", and "On the Radio". She became known as the "Queen of Disco", while her music gained a global following.
Diagnosed with lung cancer, Summer died on May 17, 2012, at her home in Naples, Florida. In her obituary in The Times, Summer was described as the "undisputed queen of the Seventies disco boom" who reached the status of "one of the world's leading female singers." 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.
Cover versions by other artists
"I Feel Love" has been sampled several times. The song was sampled by Madonna, Whitney Houston, Bette Midler, Diana Ross, Moloko, Britney Spears, Robbie Williams, Darren Hayes, Mylo, David Guetta, Stuart Price, and Moby among others. Italian company Gucci used a special version of it in the "Flora" perfume advertising, filmed by Chris Cunningham. "I Feel Love" has been covered onstage by Madonna, the Red Hot Chili Peppers' John Frusciante, Kylie Minogue, Blondie, Basement Jaxx, and Finnish progressive rock band Kingston Wall. Venus Hum with Blue Man Group also performed this song with Japanese singer Kumi Koda for their album The Complex, and in 2006, Tracy Bonham stood in for Hum on the Blue Man Group tour, performing the song. Bronski Beat and Marc Almond released the track as a duet with an added bridge section and titled it "I Feel Love/Johnny Remember Me", reaching number 3 in the UK charts in April 1985. In 1992 U.K. alterna-pop group Curve recorded a version for the NME's 40th anniversary compilation Ruby Trax, which became an instant underground classic.
"Love to Love You Baby" was sampled in Beyoncé Knowles's "Naughty Girl" and by TLC on their original version of "I'm Good at Being Bad", but was removed by request of Summer on later editions. The song has been covered in portions onstage by Dionne Warwick. Summer's "Starting Over Again" was a number one hit on the Hot Country Songs chart as a single for Dolly Parton in 1980. It also was a top-forty hit for Parton on the Billboard Hot 100. Reba McEntire named her 1995 album after the song, and McEntire's version hit no. 17 on the country singles chart in 1996. McEntire stated in the album's liner notes that her recording of the song was intended as something of a tribute to Summer and Parton, both artists whom she admired. Summer's "On the Radio" was covered by country artist Emmylou Harris for her 1983 album White Shoes. British singer and actress Martine McCutcheon recorded a version that reached number 7 in the UK charts in February 2001.
In the mid 1980s, Summer was embroiled in a controversy. She had allegedly made anti-gay remarks regarding the then-relatively new disease, AIDS, which as a result had a significantly negative impact on her career and saw thousands of her records being returned to her record company by angered fans. 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. However, she denied that she had ever made any such comment and, in a letter to the AIDS campaign group ACT UP in 1989, she said that it was "a terrible misunderstanding. I was unknowingly protected by those around me from the bad press and hate letters... If I have caused you pain, forgive me." She went on to apologize for the delay in refuting the rumours and 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 reprinted the rumours as fact just as she was about to release her album Mistaken Identity in 1991.
- 1974: Lady of the Night
- 1975: Love to Love You Baby
- 1976: A Love Trilogy
- 1976: Four Seasons of Love
- 1977: I Remember Yesterday
- 1977: Once Upon a Time
- 1979: Bad Girls
- 1980: The Wanderer
- 1981: I'm a Rainbow
- 1982: Donna Summer
- 1983: She Works Hard for the Money
- 1984: Cats Without Claws
- 1987: All Systems Go
- 1989: Another Place and Time
- 1991: Mistaken Identity
- 1994: Christmas Spirit
- 2008: Crayons