Friday, May 18, 2012

Wo-oh, On the Radio

Another star no longer shines, and again at much too young an age. Donna Summer succumbed to cancer yesterday. She was only 63, which is the new 42.

I have three Donna Summer tidbits to share.

#1: When her first album came out in 1975 I was working at WGTR in Natick, MA. The station was owned by John Garabedian, who still today, at the age of 70, hosts a weekly Top 40 show called "Open House Party" that is heard on stations coast-to-coast on Saturday night. Side one of the Donna Summer album was one song, "Love to Love You Baby." 17 minutes of Donna sounding like she's getting busy like no one ever has before or will in the future and goes out of her mind 8 times. John decides that we should add the song, and asked me if I could edit it down to a reasonable length but leave in enough moaning to make it interesting. I do, and we have a 3:42 version with one set of fireworks. The song becomes a huge hit, and WGTR, as the first station anywhere to add it, is awarded the Gold Record.

#2: When Donna winds up becoming a star, my mother mentions over dinner one night that she had been Donna's math teacher at the Jeremiah Burke High School in the Dorchester section of Boston. In the same class was a young woman named Valerie Holiday. Valerie wound up as lead singer of the Three Degrees, who had a #1 song in 1974, "When Will I See You Again?" What are the odds of two people in the same math class in high school both having #1 songs?

#3: When my wife Kathy and I started dating, we were both working at a radio station on Cape Cod. She had just been on a trip to California and visited Donner Summit, which sounds like Donna Summer if you have a wicked bad Boston accent. Not that either of us does. Anyway, our song was "On the Radio" by Donna Summer.

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