Donna Summer facts: Queen Of Disco's life, career, family, and death revealed
20 July 2022, 10:16
Donna Summer was the undisputed 'Queen Of Disco'.
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Here's all you need to know about the pioneering star:
Who was Donna Summer?
Donna Summer was an American singer and songwriter who helped popularise disco worldwide, becoming a global star and one of the most influential artists in the genre.
Iconic songs like 'I Feel Love', 'Love To Love You Baby', 'Hot Stuff' and 'Bad Girls' brought Summer to prominence during the disco boom of the 1970s.
A frequent collaborator with Italian synth composer Giorgio Moroder, Donna Summer went on to sell over 100 million records worldwide making her one of the best-selling artists of all time.
During her commercial peak from 1975-1984 she had 12 top 10 hits on the Billboard charts (10 of which reached the top 5) more than any other artist of that era.
She is considered to have changed the face of dance music, and remains immensely influential with pop artists to this day.
How old is Donna Summer and where was she born?
Donna Summer (real name LaDonna Adrian Gaines) was born on New Year's Eve, 31st December 1948 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Her father Andrew Gaines was a butcher, and her mother was a schoolteacher. She was the third of seven children.
How did Donna Summer get her start in music?
Right before she graduated high school, Donna Summer left Boston for New York where she joined blues rock band Crow, who broke up soon after.
After securing the part in the counterculture musical Hair, Summer moved to Munich and had a brief but unsuccessful stint as a solo singer under the name Donna Gaines.
Whilst in Munich working as a part-time model, Summer met Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte who would all form a working partnership and began writing songs together.
Early songs such as 'The Hostage' became hits in Europe, but it wasn't until that release of 'Love To Love You Baby' that Summer would became globally renowned.
What are Donna Summer's biggest songs?
- 'I Feel Love'
- 'Bad Girls'
- 'Hot Stuff'
- 'Love To Love You Baby'
- 'Heaven Knows'
- 'Last Dance'
- 'Dim All The Lights'
- 'No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)' with Barbra Streisand
- 'On The Radio'
- 'This Time I Know It's For Real'
Was Donna Summer ever married?
Donna Summer was married twice. During her time in Munich, she married Austrian actor Helmuth Sommer (from which she borrowed the anglicised 'Summer' for her stage name) in 1973 and had her first child Natalia Pia Melanie Sommer.
They divorced in 1976, but Summer later met singer Bruce Sudano who she'd later marry in 1980. They had two children together, Brooklyn and Amanda. They remained together until Summer's death.
What was Donna Summer's cause of death?
Donna Summer died on 17th May 2012 of lung cancer.
As a non-smoker she theorised that it was caused by inhaling toxic fumes and dust during the September 11th attacks as her apartment at the time was within touching distance of Ground Zero.
Is there anything else we should know about Donna Summer?
The life and works of the disco pioneer inspired Summer: The Donna Summer Musical which premiered in San Diego in 2017, and then on Broadway a year later.
'Last Dance', the hit song from soundtrack to the 1978 film Thank God It’s Friday won Donna Summer the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
She was fluent in German having lived in Munich for the most part of her twenties.