We’ll Always ‘Love To Love You Baby’
June 2, 2012
By: Charlotte Harrison
On May 17th, it was announced that Donna Summer had died following a battle with lung cancer, aged 63. Inspired by the music of her generation, listing Motown and Janis Joplin as huge influences, LaDonna Adrian Gaines became the icon known as Donna Summer. It was in the 1970’s disco era that she gained huge prominence, both critically and commercially, by developing her then-unique sound at the right time and place, swiftly gaining a dedicated following worldwide. Within the USA alone, in a period of less than two years, Summer had three consecutive double albums and four singles reaching number one. This is a landmark feat still only achieved by a small number of artists, placing her in unreachable ranks being the only artist to ever achieve the former, and the only female artist to achieve the latter. In 2008, she became the only artist to have a number 1 dance hit in every decade since the 1970s.
Her hit singles ‘I Love to Love You Baby’ (1975), ‘I Feel Love’ (1977) and ‘Hot Stuff’ (1979) are not just simply singles. They are anthems which have entered the public consciousness, having an unprecedented impact and longevity few would have foreseen. With her music Donna Summer merged diva vocals with synthases’ thus reforming and reshaping the disco movement. An anecdote from David Bowie reaffirms this;
“One day in Berlin … [Brian] Eno came running in and said, ‘I have heard the sound of the future.’ … he puts on ‘I Feel Love’, by Donna Summer … He said, ‘This is it, look no further. This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next fifteen years.’ Which was more or less right.” (David Bowie and Kurt Loder (1989). Sound and Vision: CD liner notes)
By the end of the seventies Donna began to break away from disco, fearing her career would peak unless she distanced herself from the movement that brought her musical success. Starting a new chapter, she found further success in the 1980’s and 1990’s, continuing to make music releases, alongside appearances in musical theater, painting and humanitarian work. Donna Summer finally received a much-deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1992, marking a legacy which will forever continue to be felt, as she achieved immortality in pop culture that few will ever be able to rival.