Retro Rewind: The sun never sets on Donna Summer’s ‘Sunset People’

Retro Rewind: The sun never sets on Donna Summer’s ‘Sunset People’

Late night flight, L.A.X.,

Limousine and you're all set

For sunset, for sunset.

Actually, it was an afternoon flight but I arrived in Los Angeles in time to watch the sun set on “Sunset”. The light smog seemed to enhance the rich colors and all I could think of as I checked into my hotel near Sunset and Vine were the lyrics to one of Donna Summers most hypnotic tracks. 

It’s been a long time since I chose a track from the Queen of Disco and the mastermind behind the EDM movement Giorgio Moroder for this column. “Sunset People”, a disco song about the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, was taken from Donna Summer’s most successful album of all time, “Bad Girls”, which was released on the ultimate disco label, Casablanca Records. The twelve-inch single version of “Sunset People” featured another classic Moroder electronic disco track on the other side, “Our Love”, and was released in 1980.


By the time it came out as a single, Summer had departed the label and was about to release her first album on Geffen Records. 

Disco was still at its peak but its days were numbered, and Sumer realized this. She was about to move away from her disco roots and move in a different direction.

It was the beginning of a new decade and New Wave and its progressive influence was on the horizon. To me, “Sunset People” was one of the forerunners to another sub-genre of dance music: Trance. Its deeply mesmerizing electronic groove and Summer’s soft, soothing vocal styling became popular with people who did not particularly like Disco; the song managed to have almost a cult like following during the early ‘80s. It is a track that remains almost timeless, especially with the rise to prominence of Electronic Dance Music.

“Sunset People” was re-recorded by E.G. Dailey in 1985 and Donna’s own version was given a cool updating by Hot Chip on her posthumous remix album, “Love To Love You”.

Giorgio Moroder is now being revered as a genius and pioneer of EDM, and his career, at age 74, has exploded during the past year or two. His new album of original material is about to drop in April of this year and features collaborations with Britney Spears, Sia, Charli XCX, Mikky Ekko, Foxes and Matthew Koma. 

His impressive new single, “Right Here, Right Now” which is taken from this upcoming album features the ever-popular Kylie Mynogue on vocals. I, for one, am looking forward to the slew of remixes that are sure to follow.

But back to my trip to L.A. It had been nearly 20 years since I’d visited Hollywood, so I had to check out Hamburger Mary’s in WeHo. During a trivia quiz the DJ actually played “Sunset People” and made my night complete, although the drag show, which followed added the icing to the cake! Gotta love that place!

Before leaving the Sunset Strip last week, I was compelled to visit the 7000 block and visit Donna Summer’s star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame to pay homage to the true Queen of Disco!


Rainbow girl, whiskey man,

Spotting every star they can

On sunset, on sunset.


Last modified on Tuesday, 17 March 2015 05:16