Thursday, May 17, 2012

My First and Only Encounter with the Late Disco Legend Donna Summer

Munich, Germany—In 1969, I was a young Army medical corpsman assigned in Aschaffenburg, near Frankfurt.  I was in an American Express office and saw a simple poster, it read, “Tanz Zug Nach Munchen fur HAAR.”   I had been rapidly learning German and knew the translation.  It was an ad for the dance train trip to see the German version of the new hit musical Hair in Munich.   The cost, I seem to recall was only 90 DM per person or about $23.00.
I took my wonderful girlfriend of the moment, Gertraud who was a hot little blond from a town called Bad Neustadt and we partied all the way from Frankfurt to Munich.  We arrived for the evening performance and it was terrific.  Just as in the Broadway play they had a few Black actors.  I was unfamiliar with any of the cast members but enjoyed a world-class performance.
One young actress, singer and dancer really surprised me.  She spoke and sang in German.  Her voice and personal style was amazing.  More than a year later I learned that this was Donna Summer performing under her real name LaDonna Gaines.
Summer was the daughter of an American Air Force member and had a wonderful command of the German language as a result of a prolonged childhood stay in this great country.
I learned the sad news today that Donna Summer has died in Florida at the age of 63 from lung cancer that may be related to the 9/11 attack on America.  I will never forget seeing her when we both were entering adulthood and celebrating our youth.  My regret was never meeting her later in life. 
Here is a cut from the original cast album where can you hear this lady's unmistakeable voice.  You will hear this late great songbird celebrate life.  Listening to this today brings me sadness that that great time in my life is gone. Rest in peace, dear Donna…

4 comments: said...

Thanks for the gift of this - both the post and the recording.

Anonymous said...

Thinking back to the 60's.

I never knew Donna Summer spoke German. But she was certainly loved in Europe.

I guess she- just like Jimmy Hendrix, went to Europe to make it big.

I did not meet Donna but I did meet Jimmy Hendrix many times in England. I also met Gerome RagnI one of the American writers of HAIR- at an early showing in London.

Probably the same year as 2001 A Space Odyssey a rather wonderful Stanley Kubrick offering!

Re: Hair in London England and Europe

Hair opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London on September 27, 1968 with the same creative team as the Broadway production.

The original London tribe included Marsha Hunt, Floella Benjamin, Alex Harvey, Oliver Tobias, Richard O'Brien and Tim Curry (of Later Rocky Horror Show)

I remember a nude scene in Hair in London

Donna Summer, who was in the German production, said that "it (nudity) was not meant to be sexual in any way. We stood naked to comment on the fact that society makes more of nudity than killing. We worry more about someone walking around half dressed than somebody who's walking around shooting people."

Rado (one of the writer's of HAIR) said that "being naked in front of an audience, you're baring your soul. Not only the soul but the whole body was being exposed. It was very apt, very honest and almost necessary.

Hair's engagement in London surpassed Broadway running for 1,997 performances until its closure was forced by the roof of the theatre collapsing in July 1973!

Tech9 said...

I love your blog. Donna Summers was the best. Disco and music in the 70's was the best. I still listen to the oldies. I used to have a small silver disco ball in my living room. I guess remembering the 70's and the 80's was a kinder gentler time when life was much nicer and easier.

Anonymous said...

Another fragment from her early German period from a TV-movie.