Above: Jeff Ganz of the Hit Men with Donna Summer at an early ‘90s charity event they played.
Members of THE HIT MEN, the “real deal” musicians who each helped deliver dozens of hits to the superstar artists of the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s could not genuinely be happier to see their former collaborator, Donna Summer, posthumously enter the Tony Award spotlight this Sunday with a pair of nominations for “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.”
“This is so well-deserved. She was truly one of the nicest people I’ve ever worked with, and one of the best singers ever,” says HIT MEN bassist Jeff Ganz, whose stellar resume includes sessions or live work with Cheap Trick, Lou Reed, Dr. John, Johnny Winter, and many more. “It’s such a shame she’s not here to enjoy it. She would have loved to have seen it.”
To illustrate his point, Ganz recalls asking the Disco Queen about performing his all-time Summer favorite, “There Will Always Be You,” a deep track ballad from the Bad Girls LP.
“Her eyes got real big with amazement, as she says, ‘Oh my, that was the first song I ever wrote!,’” Ganz relayed. “She could not have been more excited to hear how much I loved it.”
The HIT MEN keyboardist and musical director Lee Shapiro got a quick sense of Summer’s sweetness when Franke Valli and the Four Seasons shared the bill with her on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in the mid-‘70s. Shapiro was Valli’s “kid” musical director and keyboardist during that resurgent decade of his career.
“She was generous with the spotlight, musically perfect, and a true star while remaining unassuming,” IN the fainale of the TV show, I played the bass part of “Love to Love You Baby and she spun around and gave me a big hug and said, “That’s my song.”
After decades of helping deliver dozens of hits with the likes of Paul McCartney, Elton John, Rod Stewart, and Carly Simon, THE HIT MEN have taken their next major step toward stardom on their own terms, with the release of their first original music video from their first original single, “You Can’t Fight Love,” off the new album, DON’T STOP.
The Don’t Stop U.S. Tour, having already criss-crossed the U.S. with an all-new production featuring the most recent chapters in THE HIT MEN’s “Hits-tory” from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, resumes later this summer.