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Fresh Air Remembers Donna Summer, Queen Of Disco

Donna Summer, pictured above in 1976, died Thursday at age 63. She had cancer.
Donna Summer, pictured above in 1976, died Thursday at age 63. She had cancer.

Donna Summer, the queen of disco, died Thursday at her home in Naples, Fla., after a long struggle with cancer. She was 63. Born LaDonna Andrea Gaines, she grew up in a large Boston family singing gospel music and became an icon of a powerful cultural movement, a celebrated sex queen and a staple of gay club life.

She wasn't always comfortable with those roles, and in her later years returned to gospel music. Summer's hits of the '70s and early '80s included Last Dance, Heaven Knows, On the Radio, Bad Girls and She Works Hard for the Money. She had three consecutive No. 1 platinum albums and 11 gold albums, and was a five-time Grammy winner.

Summer talked with Terry Gross on Fresh Air in 2003, when her memoir Ordinary Girl was published. They talked about her hit Love to Love You Baby, which she recorded in 1975 when she was living in Germany, where she was starring in a production of Hair. In Munich, she met record producer Giorgio Moroder, who became a collaborator and one of disco's most influential producers. Fresh Air remembers the disco queen with excerpts from this 2003 interview.

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