LaDonna Adrian Gaines (December 31, 1948 – May 17, 2012), known by her stage name Donna Summer, was an American singer, songwriter, painter, and actress. She gained prominence during the disco era of the late-1970s. A five-time Grammy Award winner, she was the first artist to have three consecutive double albums reach No. 1 on the United States Billboard 200 chart and charted four number-one singles in the U.S. within a 12-month period.
Summer has reportedly sold over 140 million records, making her one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time. She also charted two number-one singles on the R&B charts in the U.S. and one number-one in the U.K. Summer earned a total of 32 hit singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in her lifetime, with 14 of those reaching the top ten.
She claimed a top 40 hit every year between 1975 and 1984, and from her first top ten hit in 1976, to the end of 1982, she had 12 top ten hits;(10 were top five hits) more than any other act. She returned to the Hot 100’s top five in 1983, and claimed her final top ten hit in 1989 with “This Time I Know It’s for Real”.
Her most recent Hot 100 hit came in 1999 with “I Will Go With You (Con Te Partiro)”. While her fortunes on the Hot 100 waned through those decades, Summer remained a force on the U.S. Dance/Club Play Songs chart over her entire career.
While influenced by the counterculture of the 1960s, she became the front singer of a psychedelic rock band named Crow and moved to New York City. Joining a touring version of the musical Hair, she left New York and spent several years living, acting, and singing in Europe, where she met music producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte.
Summer returned to the U.S., in 1975 after the commercial success of the song “Love to Love You Baby”, which was followed by a string of other hits, such as “I Feel Love”, “Last Dance”, “MacArthur Park”, “Heaven Knows”, “Hot Stuff”, “Bad Girls”, “Dim All the Lights”, “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” (duet with Barbra Streisand), and “On the Radio”. She became known as the “Queen of Disco”, while her music gained a global following.
Summer died on May 17, 2012, at her home in Naples, Florida.
In her obituary in The Times, she was described as the “undisputed queen of the Seventies disco boom” who reached the status of “one of the world’s leading female singers.”Giorgio Moroder described Summer’s work with him on the song “I Feel Love” as “really the start of electronic dance” music. In 2013, Summer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.