HAGERSTOWN —James Drew of Hagerstown took a step back into the disco era Monday to remember Donna Summer and Robin Gibb, both of whom died within the past week.
“It’s sad to see them go,” he said. “I remember it was a fun time in the ’70s and the ’80s, and I used to dance to both artists.”
Drew, 47, was among area residents who reflected Monday on disco music and the impact Summer and Gibb, and the disco period, had on music in general. He said disco music was successful because of its variety.
“It set the threshold for what artists should do,” Drew said. “They exposed music to all levels.”
Summer, born LaDonna Adrian Gaines and commonly referred to as the Queen of Disco, died Thursday of lung cancer at age 63.
Gibb, one of three brothers who made up the Bee Gees, died of cancer Sunday. He was 62.
Hagerstown resident Tony Young, who said he is a recording artist with Smash Hit Records, said he was shocked to learn that both artists died.
“It’s just a tragedy, but despite their deaths, they’re going to be here forever,” he said. “Music is here forever.”
Young, 37, said he remembers listening to both artists when he was young.
“When I first heard about Donna Summer, it couldn’t click in my mind, and when you think of the Bee Gees, it’s like an American unity because it was so beautiful,” he said. “There was just something about the disco style with the bellbottoms, the afros, the clothes and everything.”
Frank Yellott of Smithsburg said he was a fan of both artists, but mainly Summer.
“Back in the day, Donna Summer could belt it out,” he said. “Disco was good music to listen to, and it lived in its time.”
Hagerstown resident Nathaniel Trust, 40, said he also enjoys listening to the Bee Gees and Donna Summer, as well as other artists from the disco era.
“I remember Donna Summer being an icon of the disco era, and I actually have ‘Stayin’ Alive’ (by the Bee Gees) as a ringtone,” he said. “It was really hard to be trendsetters, and they were in their time.”
Trust said he likes the fact that disco music crossed over racial boundaries more than many other genres of music.
“Disco artists had the ability to blend with anybody,” he said. “There were multinational and multicultural bands that were out at that time.”
Hagerstown resident Tyrone Lyles said he enjoyed the music of the ’70s in general, which included Summer and the Bee Gees.
“It seemed like there was unity in the world and the music reflected that,” he said. “People just had fun.”
Lyles, 49, said Summer’s and Gibb’s deaths were a “blow to music.”
“Their deaths were shocking,” he said. “They inspired a lot of young music, but it does not sound the same anymore.”