You can bet that Donna Summer will be remembered at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday. Summer took the award for Disco Artist of the Year in 1977 when Billboard first had a prime-time TV show on which to honor the year's chart champs. The TV show didn't start up again until the early 1990s, but Billboard's year-end issues document Summer's strength through the years.
Summer was the #1 female artist in combined activity on the Hot 100 and The Billboard 200 album chart for two years running, 1979 and 1980. The two years before that, 1977 and 1978, she was #2 among female artists (behind Linda Ronstadt) in combined singles and albums activity.
Summer all but owned the charts in 1979. She was the only artist with two songs in the year-end top 10. "Bad Girls" was #2 (just behind The Knack's "My Sharona"). "Hot Stuff" was #7. And she had two more hits in the year-end top 40. Her remake of Richard Harris' "MacArthur Park" ranked #12. "Heaven Knows" (featuring Brooklyn Dreams) was #39.
Summer was also the only artist with two albums in the year-end top 10 for 1979. Live And More was #6. Bad Girls finished #8.
Summer also did well, if not as well, in 1980. She had three songs on the year-end top 100: "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough), a duet with Barbra Streisand, at #34; "On The Radio" at #52 and "Dim All The Lights" at #74. And she had two albums on the year-end album chart: On The Radio—Greatest Hits-Volumes I & II at #14 and Bad Girls at #94.
At her peak, Summer was virtually as hot as Adele has been in the past 15 months. Summer never had a 9-million-selling album like 21, but she had four #1 singles in the space of 12 months. Adele has had three #1 hits.
(The two singers have something else in common. This is a little more obscure: Both had chart hits titled "Rumour Has It." Summer's song by that title, which she co-wrote with her long-time collaborators Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, reached #53 in April 1978. Adele's, which she co-wrote Ryan Tedder, has been #16 for the past four weeks.)
Summer's first nine studio albums reached the top 30 on The Billboard 200. (And this doesn't take into account two albums—a live album and a greatest hits album—that hit #1.)
Summer placed at least one song on Billboard's year-end pop singles recap in seven years. I've already told you about 1979 and 1980. Here's the info for the other five years. "Love To You Baby" was #41 for 1976, the Oscar-winning "Last Dance" was #34 for 1978, "Love Is In Control (Finger On The Trigger)" was #59 for 1982, "She Works Hard For The Money" was #15 for 1983 and "This Time I Know It's For Real" was #92 for 1989.
Summer placed two albums on the top 100 year-end album recap in four out of five years from 1976 through 1980.
Summer was the #1 disco artist of the year four years running, from 1976 through 1979. In 1978, she also had the year's #1 disco hit, "Last Dance." That was one of three songs that Summer performed on the Thank God It's Friday soundtrack, along with "Je T'Aime (Moi Non Plus)" and "With Your Love." That double-disk album was the #3 soundtrack on the year-end chart for 1978, behind the blockbusters Saturday Night Fever and Grease.
Reviewing Summer's discography is a reminder of just how impressive her career was. She covered Barbra Streisand's smash "The Way We Were" on her Live And More album, which hit #1 in November 1978. Less than a year later, she recorded a smash duet with Streisand, "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)."
The Fine Print: I said earlier that Summer had four #1 hits in the space of 12 months. She made it with a day to spare. Her version of "MacArthur Park" logged its third and final week at #1 the week of Nov. 25, 1978. "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" hit #1 the week of Nov. 24, 1979. In between, she reached the top spot with "Hot Stuff" (for three weeks) and "Bad Girls" (for five).