1 of 32
- FEBRUARY 01: Photo of Donna SUMMER; performing live onstage
2 of 32
‘The Queen of Disco’ Donna Summer performs onstage in a feather costume in circa 1977
3 of 32
FEBRUARY 01: Photo of Donna SUMMER
4 of 32
5 of 32
‘Queen of Disco’ Donna Summer performs onstage in circa 1977.
6 of 32
‘Queen of Disco’ Donna Summer performs onstage in a shimmering blue dress in circa 1979.
7 of 32
UNITED STATES – JANUARY 01: Photo of Donna SUMMER
8 of 32 Fotos International/Getty Images
Donna Summer was born LaDonna Adrian Gaines in Boston, Massachusetts on December 13, 1948.
9 of 32 Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Though she grew up singing in the church, Summer (pictured here during a portrait session in 1980) was heavily influenced by Motown girl groups like the Supremes. She began her music career performing with a rock group called Crow. She later joined the German cast of the hit Broadway musical Hair.
10 of 32 Michael Putland/Getty Images
Summer officially launched her solo music career while living in Germany. She released her first single, “Sally Go ’Round the Roses” in 1971, but would garner her first number one in 1974 with the song “The Hostage.” The next year she recorded “Love to Love You Baby,” a song that catapulted her to international fame.
11 of 32 Harry Langdon/Getty Images
The song “Love to Love You Baby,” garnered its fair share of controversy with many claiming it was too sexy for radio. Despite the criticism the song shot to number one on Billboard charts and quickly became a favorite among clubgoers.
12 of 32 Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
By the mid-70s Summer had released two albums and made history as the first female artist to earn back-to-back multi-platinum double albums. She won an Academy Award for the song, “Last Dance” in 1978.
13 of 32 Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
In this now iconic photo the ‘Queen of Disco’ poses during a portrait session at her home during Christmas in Los Angeles, California.
14 of 32
Her super sexy image in the 70s got Summer loads of attention. But, she told Penthouse Magazine, “I am sensual and very physical. I’m very erotic. But my sexuality exists on a sort of a fantasy level.”
15 of 32
Besides music, Summer quickly became a hair and fashion icon. Here, she wears a disco-era braided look popularized by Rick James.
16 of 32 Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Summer holds the American Music Award trophy she won for ‘Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist’ on January 18, 1980.
17 of 32 michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Summer and Michael Jackson attend an event in 1982.
18 of 32 Ron Galella/WireImage)
The disco queen was briefly married to German actor Helmut Sommer whom she divorced in 1975 – the two did have a daughter named Mimi. She met her second husband Bruce Sudano when she collaborated with his band, Brooklyn Dreams. The two wed in 1980 and have two daughters, Brooklyn and Amanda Grace.
19 of 32 Harry Langdon/Getty Images
Asked what she loved about dance music, Summer replied: “I think dance music is happy music. It makes you euphoric. When I go to a dance floor, I want to hear something that will help me shake off every negative thing,” she told Newsweek.
20 of 32
The ever fashionable Summer poses for an album cover session in 1978.
21 of 32
Summer’s musical career included 17 studio albums that produced 35 number one singles.
22 of 32
Summer appears on Vh1 Diva’s: A Tribute to Diana Ross in 2000.
23 of 32 Giulio Marcocchi /Getty Images
The singer released her autobiography, Ordinary Girl , in 2003.
24 of 32
Summer poses with husband Bruce Sudano and daughter Brooklyn (pictured here in 2003).
25 of 32 Eric Charbonneau/WireImage
Summer’s daughters Amanda (left) and Brooklyn Sudano (right) are both following in their famous mom’s footsteps. Amanda a model and singer; Brooklyn, an actress.
26 of 32 Kevin Mazur/WireImage
In the early 80s, following a nervous breakdown, Summer became a born-again Christian and refused to sing some of her racier songs. She returned to the dance music charts in 2008 when she recorded the song “Stamp Your Feet.”
27 of 32
Summer and husband Bruce Sudano were married for 32 years when she passed away.
28 of 32
Donna Summer 1976 during Music File Photos – The 1970s – by Chris Walter at the Music File Photos 1970’s in London, United Kingdom.
29 of 32 Harry Langdon/Getty Images
Donna Summer quickly became one of the most popular
30 of 32 Echoes/Redfern/Getty Images
Photo of Donna SUMMER; Posed portrait of Donna Summer.
31 of 32 Getty Images
Photo of Donna SUMMER; 1975
32 of 32
You may like
Get The Essence Newsletter and Special Offers delivered to your inbox!