Donna Summer: Her Life and Career in Photos
Donna Summer performing, 1987.

Ask Billboard is updated every week. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


Hi Gary,

I was very saddened to hear about the passing of fellow New Englander Donna Summer. I really started getting into music in 1979 (courtesy of Casey Kasem and "American Top 40"), which pretty much was the year of Summer. She was everywhere ... "Heaven Knows," "Hot Stuff," "Bad Girls," "Dim All the Lights" and "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)," with Barbra Streisand. Getting a No. 1 song in any year is a great thing, but she picked up three that year, along with two other top fives.

I also think it's pretty cool that she had top 10 hits at each end of the '80s: 1980's "On the Radio" and 1989's "This Time I Know It's for Real."

Of her passing, a friend of mine said, "There's a strange consolation in the fact that the Beastie Boys' Adam 'MCA' Yauch, Chuck Brown and Donna Summer's deaths suddenly made our collective playlists funkier." How true. RIP Donna, and thank you.

Ron Raymond, Jr.
Host/Producer, "Stuck in the 80s"
WMPG-FM and, Portland, Maine

Dear Gary,

So sad about Donna (LaDonna Gaines) Summer. It's one thing to have recently lost great female vocalists such as Etta James and Whitney Houston, but for me, well, Donna was more my era in terms of that precious time when I was first getting into radio.

When I first saw her in concert, she sang "Smile," with its "smile, though your heart is aching" refrain, as her dad had then-recently died. I shouted out from the seventh row that she was beautiful ... to which Ms. Summer looked in my direction and replied, "Thanks, honey, but you should see me two hours before Max Factor."

I feel love,

Pablo Nelson
Berkeley, California