Donna Summer, RIP

One of the greats is gone. Donna Summer died of cancer this morning in Florida, according to reports. The Queen of Disco was 63.

Summer was born and raised in Boston, and first sang in her church's gospel choir. She went on to perform in the touring production of "Hair," and met producer/songwriter and electronic music pioneer Giorgio Moroder in 1974.

About "I Feel Love," the synth-driven club anthem she recorded with Moroder in 1977, Brian Eno said at the time: "This is it, look no further. This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next 15 years.”

The singer who went on to win five Grammys ascended to diva status in the seventies with hits like “Love to Love You Baby,” “Last Dance,” “Hot Stuff,” “MacArthur Park,” and “Bad Girls.”

Two must-listens today: This Fresh Air interview with Summer, and this Tavis Smiley interview on NPR, both in 2003 when she was promoting her memoir, Ordinary Girl: The Journey.

Donna Summer with Giorgio Moroder in the mid-1970s, via soundonsound.

(Thanks, @drdawkins09)



  1.  I dismissed her work out of hand until a girlfriend moved in with an lp of Summer’s On The Radio. I ended up playing it more than she did.
    Thanks, Donna, for the great music.

  2. One of my first musical memories was singing along to hot stuff.  I must have been 5 or 6 years old and it was getting a lot of radio play.  I thought it was about food.  My parents and their friends thought it was a hoot.

    1. I was older when Hot Stuff was airing.  I knew what it was about though.  After a  frantic dial in contest, I won a copy of the album it was on and was thrilled.  Not yet driving, I had to ask my mom to take me to the radio station to pick it.  My uber-conservative mom told me off, expressing dismay at my liking SLUT music. I never got that album.  Now as a mom, I’m okay when my daughter listens to Lily Allen, giggling at the F-I know I won’t be published with it- word.  My son loves Geo. Carlin.  As for Disco, we play it on family trips- Donna Summer’s Bad Girls included.

    2. My little sisters pretty much wore out the Bad Girls LP, and “Last Dance” was the (obvious) closing number for school and summer camp dances for the first part of my adolesence. So yeah, part of the soundtrack of my young life.Listening to her voice right now with all the lights dimmed. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

  3. I just treated our local Tuesday Night Bike Ride to “Love to Love You Baby” (the 17 minute LP version) the other day. I had no idea this was coming.

      1. I figured that there were more people who’d click through to read about Donna Summer, and I wanted to point them to TMOTTGoGo so they could learn more about the music. Got to represent Chocolate City, yo.

  4. Eff you, May 2012. My man MCA had a beard like a billy goat, Maurice, and now Donna Summer. RIP

  5. I listened to a lot of disco in my teens and especially Donna Summer. I remember my Mum pretending not to understand. Didn’t they all do that? But why mix Donna Summer and Beaker? Teenage sexual confusion and Beaker? Beaker is my favourite muppet and always makes me laugh.

  6. Drunk as hell at SXSW in ~ 96?    watching a young band and screaming at the TOP of my lungs  “you suck.  You SUUUUCKKK!  Play some Donna Summer!”   they struggled through their set, and last song, they giggled, and played “on the Radio”   the crowd went insane, and they got signed that night.        And invited me to every show they played in Austin for years.    yay the power of Donna.  MSRIP   (fuck cancer)

  7. The “On the Radio” greatest hits double album was the first record I remember ever picking out for myself at Tower Records, at the age of nine. My parents either were blissfully unaware of what many of the songs were about, or figured that I was (which was true). I loved the electronic music almost as much as her voice. I didn’t know she was ill; this makes me so very sad.

  8. An amazing singer and a great loss. ‘I feel love’ was still being remixed as little as 5 years ago, an i daresay it will be played in clubs in one form another for decades more.

  9. Very saddened by this, as I was by the recent passing of Donald Dunn – two major presences in my musical tastes when I was growing up.  “Love to Love You” is one of the purest expressions of the Permissive Era, and one of the most irresistible slices of disco sleaze ever.  “I Feel Love” – Eno was so on the money with that quote at the time, one of the most important club records ever, destined to rip the roof off joints forever.  RIP.

  10. I love Donna when she sings to me on Music Unlimited… i have a shitload of party lights and booze. I live on a beautiful piece of property and I like to get drunk… I play this wonderful ethereal creature’s voice and I swim and cavort to flashing lights…  My heart is made light. I’ll bet Donna put 20 years on my heart due to my stress free livin’…

  11. Bleah. “This video contains content by UMG, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.”

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