Thursday, May 17

Donna Summer R.I.P.

Donna Summer the seminal queen of Disco passed away this morning in Florida from cancer. LaDonna Adrian Gaines, bet known by her stage name Donna Summer, was born on New Year's Eve, 1948, in Dorchester Massachusetts to a devout Christian family of seven and was raised singing in the church choir at a young age. Influenced by Mahalia Jackson, The Supremes and Martha and the Vandellas, Donna started her own girl group with a cousin and her sister while living in Massachusetts. After dropping out of school to pursue a music career Donna moved to New York City and landed the part of Sheila on the European touring production of Hair. In Europe she married Austrian actor Helmuth Sommer, whom she later divorced, while keeping an anglican version of his name - Summer. The early 70s found Donna singing back-up for Three Dog Night, this led to her meeting producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, with whom she recorded her first big hit "Love to Love You Baby". Summer came up with the main lyric line and performed the song inspired by Marilyn Monroe's famous breathy singing:
Donna Summer • 1948 - 2012 • R.I.P.
Below is one of my favorite Donna Summer tracks "I Feel Love", featuring the synthesized production of Giorgio Moroder that later became the defining sound of an era. The pulsating bass of the track was done on a Moog Modular synced to a Studer A80, as programmer on the track Robbie Wedel explained the novel concept (back then) as "recording a reference pulse on track 16 of the tape, and from that we can then lock in the Moog so that the rest of the tracks are perfectly synchronised." The drums and pad sounds were also done with the Moog Modular, with a little reverb and compression added, courtesy of an early Lexicon rack. Co-Producer Pete Bellotte described the track to Sound on Sound back in 2009, "That track sounds so massive, so future-proof... We never thought of it as a stand-out track, we just thought it part of a good album."
*Giorgio and Donna pic by Redferns
*Crayons pic courtesy of Michael Brandt

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