This Massachusetts Queen Had 32 Hits on Billboard’s Top 100
Donna Summer, born Donna Adrian Gaines in Boston's Mission Hill neighborhood on December 31, 1948, was an international superstar when she died of lung cancer in Naples, Florida, on May 12, 2012. She was 63.
Summer's father Andrew Gaines was a butcher, and her mother Mary Gaines was a school teacher.
Summer first performed publicly at age 10 when a singer scheduled to perform at her church didn't show up. Andrew Gaines recalled the performance this way: "You couldn't see her if you were beyond the third row. But you could hear her," reported Biography.com.
Mary Gaines recalled, "She literally lived to sing...She used to go through the house singing, singing, singing."
Gaines recalled "She sang for breakfast and for lunch and for supper," according to Biography.com.
Donna Summer appeared in several musicals while a student at Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Boston.
In 1967, just weeks before graduation, Summer, then 18, left school for New York where she won a part in a traveling production of Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical and flew to Germany, where she stayed performing in shows and recording music until her return to the U.S. in 1976.
Donna adopted the surname Summer after her marriage to German singer Helmuth Sommer ended in divorce.
In 1975, Summer released a 17-minute version of "Love to Love You Baby," which soared to No. 2 on the Billboard Singles Chart. In 1976, the albums A Love Trilogy and Four Seasons of Love cemented Donna Summer at the top of the disco charts and she became known as the Queen of Disco.
Summer amassed a total of 32 chart singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, including 14 top 10 singles and four No. 1 singles. She sold over 100 million records worldwide and won five Grammy Awards.
Summer married Bruce Sadano in 1982. She had three children.