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Donna Summer: Diva who shone brighter than a Seventies glitterball


Donna Summer

Donna Summer

Mark Mainz

Donna Summer

Within minutes of the announcement of Donna Summer’s death on an American news channel Facebook went into overdrive. It seemed everyone of a certain age had started reminiscing fondly about the sparkling glitterball days of disco.

Kids nowadays may not recognise the name (I told my sons she had died and they replied: “Who's Donna Summer?”) but they will almost certainly recognise her songs which have been used incessantly as themes, soundtracks, samples and backing tracks ever since they revolutionised the dance floor and popular culture in the late 1970s.

That entire decade was the heyday of disco and Donna Summer was the one true disco diva.

Teenagers in that era fell into two categories, largely based on how they felt about disco music in general and Donna Summer in particular. Punks were just emerging onto the scene and their motto was “disco sucks” — so they hated her by default. But everyone else loved disco.

And, when you look back on it now, through the dry-ice mists of time, you realise how truly great and groundbreaking her sound was. Love's Unkind, McArthur Park, Hot Stuff, Down Deep Inside, Last Dance ... all brilliant songs, all forever memorable, all wonderful to dance to.

The only good that will surely come out of Donna Summer’s death is that her songs will be rereleased and today’s teens — as well as nostalgic fortysomethings — will rediscover what a star she truly was.

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