The most talked-about producer on the planet right now isn’t one of the many crafting new material for Britney Spears, Beyonce and Justin Timberlake. It’s Giorgio Moroder, the 73-year-old Italian musician whose synth-heavy work influenced more artists than you can fill on a sheet of paper and soundtracked at least two generations.
Giorgio’s longtime collaborator and close friend Donna Summer passed away one year ago today, at the age of 63. The disco queen kept her battle with lung cancer private, but it’s Summer’s enduring legacy of revered songs like “I Feel Love,” “Last Dance,” “MacArthur Park” and “Bad Girls” that lives on. To commemorate the first year since the passing of Summer and celebrate the extensive work of Moroder, we reached out to the producer, who turned out to be as thoughtful as he is candid.
“The thing I miss most about Donna is the vitality with which she surrounded herself,” Moroder reflects. “She was always ready for a joke, even in the last months, never indicating that she was suffering. She even tried to convince me to lose weight with the special diet [she was on].”
Rest assured, Giorgio is a man whose calendar in 2013 is getting busier by the week. Still, he offered many insights regarding the classic tracks he produced throughout the ’70s and ’80s — not to mention a certain song recently recorded for Daft Punk‘s upcoming LP Random Access Memories. Head below as Debbie Harry and Blondie‘s Chris Stein, Terri Nunn of Berlin and Moroder reminisce about the music of Donna Summer and some of Giorgio’s biggest milestones.
1. “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer (1977)
You can trace the origins of any number of dance genres (Italo disco, Hi-NRG, techno, electro) back to this one lusty, pulsating track, released as the second single off Donna Summer’s 1977 I Remember Yesterday album. Though she would go on to become a disco icon by the end of the decade, up to this point, Summer had only attained moderate success, with one sole Top 40 hit to her credit (1975′s “Love To Love You Baby”).
The other-worldly “I Feel Love” kicked the budding singer’s career into high gear. And by opting for a fully electronic bed of sound rather than using live strings, Giorgio Moroder set the wheels in motion for a universal overhaul for the sound of the dancefloor.
“Nobody, including me, was thinking it could become such a hit and revolutionize the use of synthesizer in the electronic dance world,” Moroder admits.
Blondie’s Chris Stein adds, “[Giorgio] told me he had the idea for ‘I Feel Love’ in the ‘60s, but he just couldn’t pull it off with anybody because it was too weirdly ahead of its time.”