The Capricorn was born December 31, 1948 as Ladonna Adrian Gaines in Boston, Massachusetts. She began singing at an early age by singing at church. In her teens, she was part of a few groups, one that included a sister and a cousin, they resembled the motown female act The Supremes.
In the late 60's she dropped out of school. She was ridiculed for her voice and her looks. She knew that music was her life regardless of what anyone had to say. She joined the rock group the Crow as the lead singer. This was short lived since the group broke up in 1968 just after arriving in New York. She auditioned for the musicl Hair, but lost that part to Melba Moore. She would actually reclaim that spot when the musical went to Europe.
Because of this opportunity, she was able to live in Germany for several years. She learned to speak German fluently and participated in several musicals including Ich Bin Ich, The German version of The Me Nobody Knows. She settled in Munich and preformed with the Viennese Folk Opera.
In 1971, under the name Donna Gaines, She released her first single but it was not a hit. She next got married in 1972 to Austrian actor Helmuth Sommer and gave birth to their daughter Mimi Sommer in 1973. The marriage did end and she changed the spelling of her name to Summer.
While singing background for the group Three Dog Night, she met producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte . She signed with a European label, Groovy Records, and released her first album Lady of the Night in 1974. The album was not released in the
States but had some success in the European market. Her song, The Hostage was reached number one in Belgium and number two in The Netherlands.
In 1975, She approached Moroder with an Idea. She was working with Bellotte on a song for another artist title Love to love you baby. She recorded a demo track of the song and played it for Moroder. Once hearing it, he thought that this song should be released under her name. Although, it was somewhat controversial because of the lyrics some radio stations refused to play it, it still had success in the European market, It reached the top five in the UK.
The song was sent to Casablanca Records president Neil Bogart to get an American release. He agreed to release the song but asked for a longer version. The longer version was released in the US in November of 1975, the song ran for 17 minutes. (Rumor has it the longer version was for and played in gay clubs, but I’m sure some” freaky deaky” straight clubs played the full version as well.) In early 1976 the song reached number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and the album titled Love to Love You Baby sold over a million copies.
This was the start of several hits to come in the US market. She was the first artist to have three consecutive double albums reach number one on the US Billboard. She was a five time Grammy Award Winner. She just recently today lost her battle with breast cancer. She will be missed.
Photo's from Google images, provided by the AP.