Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Donna Summer, R.I.P. + Robin Gibb

Another music legend departs at the too early age of 63: Donna Summer (1948-2012). I was not really into her sound during the '70s disco era (that was the height of my Joni Mitchell fandom), but loved her '80s album with Quincy Jones which had that great version of Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" (which does not seem to be available now) - Donna's version is as good as any of the others such as Nancy Wilson's - and those tracks like "State of Independence". I remember my pal Stan and I travelling on the London underground, it must have been about 1983, and he had one of the first Walkmans so I listened to it and it was Donna's "Love is in Control" that came over the headphones ... I had to get my own Sony Walkman after that - the clunky yellow Sports one ! 

Donna had a huge string of hits - the '80s was my disco era really in London, Brighton and Portsmouth - so we liked "Bad Girls", "Hot Stuff", "She Works Hard for the Money" etc. Those ill-advised comments about Aids (if she made them) derailed her career for a while, but Donna kept going, that hit with Barbra Streisand etc and did not have to hit the nostalgia circuit, the power and elasticity of her voice continued as her career diversified. Those early hits with Giorgio Moroder will always be around.

Robin Gibb too has lost his long fight against cancer. RIP too then to another 1960s-70s pioneer. He was 62 and co-founded the Bee Gees with his brothers - I remember buying their early singles like "Massachusetts" in the 60s. The tributes have been suitably reverential placing the group's songwriting next to Lennon-McCartney. I got around to buying SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER the other week, as felt as an essential '70s film it should be in the collection. I also of course had the essential vinyl double album back then.
So far then this year we have lost a Bee Gee, a Monkee, a member of The Band as well as some disco divas, Etta James, Dory Previn and that great German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Diskau. A heavenly choir indeed.

Today's paper says .."The deaths of Donna Summer and now Robin Gibb have resounded so powerfully around the world because they were so intimately associated with something utterly life-affirming - the groove of disco and movement and frivolous escapism. When pop stars pass away, they take with them a part of our collective memory, the moments when they were the soundtrack to our times. But at least they leave behind the thing that matters most: the music itself." .

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