I’m feeling a little spooked out right now, not just at the news that the number one Disco Queen Donna Summer has died at age 63 after battling cancer, but also because I was going to post this clip today just because it is so damn good.
Taken from a 1979 TV special, here is Donna performing a live version of her classic “Sunset People” from the Bad Girls LP. The original track is one of my all time disco favorites, and one of her best collaborations with that damned pop music genius Giorgio Moroder.
In this clip Donna performs the track live while walking down the actual Sunset Strip, and play acts different roles of some of the Strip’s denziens (starlet, showgirl, traffic cop.) The track itself is different to the recorded version too, being slightly faster and sounding more “live band” than “studio whizz.”
The reason I wanted to post this clip today, before I heard the news, is that it is awesome, a real treat for Summer/Moroder/disco fans. Only now it takes on a new gravitas as the news filters through of Summer’s untimely death. And there I was, only recently pondering the thought of a Donna Summer-revival tour. She was one of the few major (still living) solo acts from the disco period not to be out touring again, and a glaring omission from the Etam Paris Fashion week “Disco Divas” show (which featured Grace Jones, Sister Sledge, the Pointer Sisters, Chaka Khan and Gloria Gaynor - what a fucking line-up!).
There are going to be plenty of Donna Summer obituaries coming through over the next few days with the passing of this true legend. If you’re aware of my other posts over the last 18 months here on Dangerous Minds, you will have gathered by now that I am a disco music obsessive. I shouldn’t have to explain what Donna Summer means to me, or to popular music culture in general. After the male-oriented “free love” boom of the 60s, she brought assertive female sexuality to the masses with “Love To Love You Baby” in 1975. Along with Giorgio Moroder, Summer redefined pop music with the epoch-defining “I Feel Love.” Hell, I still drop that track in my dj sets to this day, and it never fails to tear the roof off.
If you’re still in doubt as to how important her work was, ask Bernard Sumner of New Order who was more important to the band - Donna Summer or Kraftwerk?
Well then, here’s to you Donna Summer, performer and co-author of some of the best songs in dance, and pop, music history. You will be missed!
Donna Summer “Sunset People” (1979 TV special version)