The trouble with getting old is so many celebrities I know and like are vanishing. Some even younger than me. Today we lost Donna Summers. Without doubt she was my favorite female singer- I thought just about every record she made was great. The '70s and '80s sure wouldn't have been the same without her, and the future won't either.
I wasn't generally into disco or that type of music back in the 70's, but I always enjoyed Donna Summers' voice and music. My younger brother was a big fan of hers and often played her albums, which didn't bother me at all. Unlike some of her contemporaries, that lady could really sing! When Barbra Streisand did a duet with Summers, that was additional confirmation that she too thought that she was a major talent.
Years ago, I read that following the "She Works Hard For The Money" and "Bad Girls" releases, Donna Summers became more overtly religious (which is something that was apparently part of her life before) and started singing less about night-clubbing and sex and more about devotion to faith. Interesting that I now hear from friends that Summers had drug issues in the years after her career started to fade. I know that having religious faith doesn't make one immune to such problems, but it still makes me wonder what the people around her were doing (or not doing) if they saw her getting into trouble.
I hated disco with a passion in the 1970s. Couldn't stand the music or the culture but the one exception back then for me was Donna Summer. I always liked her and her music.
Today, I have a greater appreciation of disco especially the craft of making a great dance song. Disco is a producer's medium unlike rock which is a performer's medium or country which is more of a songwriter's medium. That concept was alien to me at the time but once I understood it, I heard many of the disco classics of the 1970s in a new way. Today's dance music is more of a dj/mixer's medium which is still something I just don't get.
Donna Summer's music was always produced, written and performed in a first class manner.
I think Summers' music spanned many categories. It was played by rock and pop and even MOR stations as well as disco. I read she got her start singing gospel music in church. In any event, from what I read, drugs were not a factor in her death (as usually the case) but lung cancer- which she blamed on WTC collapse exposure. Of course we only know what they tell us.
Ironically this comes right after I watched a poignant 2-hour documentary about Johnny Carson on PBS. It showed his career through the years from a nervous young 20-something in the 1950s to a old gray hair man retiring from public life. And most of the stars they showed with him are gone now too. So many entertainers that were a part of my life are gone and for some reason they aren't being replaced by newer people in my mind. I can talk at length about entertainers of the past but when I read about current day celebrities I don't even know who most of them are. Guess that says something about me.
OK, I'm a old fogy stuck in the past but it seems to me music went to crap beginning about 1990. Even MTV gave up on it and never shows music videos anymore. So when I listen to radio it's to a oldies station because whenever I turn on a current hit station it sounds like crap.
The thing that surprised me about Johnny Carson was that he essentially disappeared from public life after signing off from The Tonight Show for the last time. Other celebrities have said that after they give up the gig that made them famous, they want to fade from the limelight. And at first, maybe they do. But usually, given some time, they appear to miss some of the notoriety and re-appear. But not Carson. The few candid shots I saw of him, he either didn't appear to know or didn't want the photo taken. He just seemed to want to be left alone. I realize that private and public personas aren't always the same. Still, I wonder how one goes from being a national icon and in people's homes 5 nights per week for decades to wanting to essentially disappear from public consciousness.
Something they emphasize in this documentary was that Carson was two different people, the entertainer we knew, but off stage he was a shy private person who avoided publicity as much as possible. And he made it clear when he retired from the Tonight Show in 1994 that his public life was over, and he stuck to it.