By 1975, Summer had been living in Germany for eight years and had participated in several musical theatre shows. She had also released an album in Europe entitled Lady of the Night, written by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte and produced by Bellotte, which had given her a couple of hit singles. She was still a complete unknown in her home country when she suggested the lyric "Love to Love You Baby" to Moroder in 1975. He turned the lyric into a full disco song and asked Summer to record it. The full lyrics were somewhat explicit and at first Summer said she would only record it as a demo to give to someone else. However, Summer's erotic moans and groans impressed Moroder so much that he persuaded her to release it as her own song, and "Love to Love You" became a moderate hit in the Netherlands.
In an interview in 1976, Summer responded to a number of questions that she claims she'd been asked about the process of recording the song: "Everyone's asking, 'Were you alone in the studio?' Yes, I was alone in the studio. 'Did you touch yourself?' Yes, well, actually I had my hand on my knee. 'Did you fantasize on anything?' Yes, on my handsome boyfriend Peter."
|"Love to Love You Baby"|
|Single by Donna Summer|
|from the album Love to Love You Baby|
|Released||November 26, 1975|
|Format||7" single, 12" single|
|Recorded||Musicland Studios, Munich, May–June 1975|
|Genre||R&B, disco, funk, soul|
|Length||16:50 (Album version)
4:58 (7" version) 3:21 (Original 7" version)
|Donna Summer singles chronology|
A tape of the song was sent to Casablanca Records president Neil Bogart in the U.S. and he played it at a party at his home. He was so impressed with the track that he continued to play it over and over all night. He later contacted Moroder and suggested that he make the track longer - possibly as long as twenty minutes. However, Summer again had reservations. She wasn't even sure of all the lyrics, but she imagined herself as an actress (namely Marilyn Monroe) playing the part of someone in sexual ecstasy. The studio lights were dimmed so that Summer was more or less in complete darkness as she lay on the floor.
The final recording lasted over sixteen minutes, and contained the sexiest "simulated" orgasms ever found on vinyl. According to the BBC, the song contained 23 "orgasms". By that point, the song was renamed "Love To Love You Baby." It took up the entire first side of the album of the same name, and was also released as a 12" single. Edited versions were also found on 7" vinyl.
Originally released in November 1975, the song became an international disco smash. In the U.S., it became Summer's first U.S. top 40 hit, spending two weeks at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in early 1976 and logged four weeks atop the Billboard U.S. disco chart, as well number three on the soul singles chart. In the UK, upon release in January 1976, it reached #4 on the UK Singles Chart despite the BBC's refusal to promote it. Summer would be named "the first lady of love," which labeled her with a sexually-oriented, fantasy image from which she would struggle to free herself.
Casablanca Records became responsible for the distribution of Summer's work in the U.S., and later in other parts of the world. President Neil Bogart was particularly keen for Summer to portray the image of a rich, powerful, sexy fantasy figure with which this song had labeled her. Bogart and his wife Joyce (who also became Summer's manager) would become close friends with Summer once she returned to the United States. However, Bogart also began interfering with aspects of her personal as well as professional life. Summer eventually felt that she had no control over her life and suffered with depression and insomnia. She would later become a born-again Christian, leave disco, Casablanca and the Bogarts behind, and file a lawsuit against them (which was eventually settled). Thereafter, Summer also made the decision to leave behind "Love to Love You Baby" forever. However, she would reintroduce the song into her concert repertoire some twenty-five years later.