The Donna Summer Fan Club was in the beginning a dream and a challenge for a group of guys from South East Michigan (Detroit Area) (myself, Steve, Jerry and Al) who loved Donna’s music and felt she wasn’t getting the right attention from the industry as she well deserved and her Fans were so loyal we felt there was something we could do. Being much younger and a bit more naïve we had the idea of doing a Newsletter quarterly and mailing it out to the Fans, which was indeed worldwide and a task at best to get information such as Tour Schedules, TV appearances, Record Releases and all in a way that was accurate and straight from the “sources” close to Donna. In those days (1980’s) the internet was not quite born as of yet and information flowed slowly and most of the time was inaccurate and old news by the time the newsletters would make it to the Fans mailboxes. I made a connection through Geraldo Bernard (Donna’s brother in law) to tell him what we were planning and to reach out for his help to get Donna and Bruce on board, I remember making a short video of Detroit such as Motown Museum, Renaissance Center, family and friends greeting Donna asking Geraldo to send it to her in which he did, from what I understand she loved it and was very proud of us, so off we went on this journey to create a Fan Club for the Fans and by the Fans, with of course the oversight of Bruce and Donna.
In the coming months with “This Time I know It’s For Real” pounding the airways we were really excited about what we were doing and had a great passion to do the best for Donna and in return we were included in Donna’s forth coming album “Mistaken Identity” (and many others) as Donnas official World Wide Fan club which made us realize this was truly a job and not just a hobby anymore, but for Donna and the Fans we would do anything to make what we did successful. There are so many people that were in our corner at the time helping us and getting us the information we needed to publish some names are Ceil Kasha, Beth Foster, Gina Delgado, Geraldo Bernard, Mary Bernard, Bruce Sudano, Brian Edwards, Harry Langdon and many others that were with us in the beginning. The reason I mention this is without them we would have never got to the point of where we were with the Fan Club. There was so much more to come, the letters from Fans, Autograph request personal blessing were all shared with Donna and I know she enjoyed hearing from each of you. The engagement with Donna and Bruce was undying and they did so much to help the Fan Club be successful and to reach out to all of Donnas Fans all over the world. Everything from Promotional Parties, Cd Releases, Concerts and even once I was honored to attend a life radio broadcast here in Detroit with Donna and Bruce, they always supported us and what we did for the many fans worldwide.
Donna was a great painter with her abstract paintings of her inner feelings and her travels through life, the Fan Club was indeed the host of an event that has never happened before and that was a weekend at TIMESQUARE where I worked at the time, an upscale café during the day and the place to be on a Saturday night for the best DJ’s in the area. TIMESQUARE was known for their Sunday brunch with people lining up to have mimosas and fabulous food. I ask Ceil Kasha (who handled Donna’s art) at the time what she thought about Donna and the Fan Club displaying her art at the café for a Sunday brunch and donating all sales or a portion to AMFAR in Donna’s name and before I knew it this happened and made me even more proud of Donna for allowing this and Ceil Kasha for making it happen. This was indeed the first time Donna’s art work was displayed outside of Circle Gallery at the time. I remember spending the night at the café admiring some of Donna’s art pieces, we also raised money for AMFAR, it was crazy, and press was everywhere even the Detroit News!. It was a great experience and something the Fans should be proud of forever.
The Fans also planted Donna on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with petitions, write-ins and support for Donna to achieve this much deserved goal. Brian Edwards was the key to getting this accomplished for the Fans and the Fan Club, he always supported us in any way he could. I remember that some of the guys attended the ceremony, but I was too afraid to fly on a plane that far which is something I will always regret, not being there was a lost opportunity to enjoy some of the hard work we did and to celebrate with Donna as she was so happy and honored to receive that star. I finally made it out to see it and reminisce on what I missed, once in a while I will play the video from that day and wonder why I didn’t go, but it was just being young at the time and always having a fear of flying, of course Jerry and the guys never let up about it which we still laugh about it when we ever see each other.
The days of the newsletter have long passed and the internet is the tool of choice for those with something to say, so that’s why I have created The Donna Summer Fan Club web site, it has been in my mind for many years to carry on the Fan Club, not for recognition or praise but to honor Donna’s memory both in song and her actions, a place for Fans to gather remember and share what we all loved about Donna and her family. As in the beginning when we started the Fan Club we were never to be political or invasive into Donna’s personal life but to share a lifetime of memories together among the Fans both old and new and to grow together in her memory. I do hope you enjoy this site and that it brings happiness to your life and great memories of Donna and her many gifts she has shared with us throughout the years and for years to come.
– Tom Gilliam