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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 September, 2004, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
In tune with Britain's disco king
By Tom Bishop
BBC News Online entertainment

Pete Bellotte
Bellotte co-wrote 14 disco hits for Donna Summer from 1976
The Dance Music Hall of Fame has opened its doors in New York, and British producer Pete Bellotte was among the first wave of musicians, artists and DJs to be honoured.

If you have ever lost yourself on a full dancefloor as Donna Summer sings I Feel Love or Love to Love You Baby, Bellotte is the man to thank.

With Italian Giorgio Moroder, Bellotte co-wrote and co-produced all of Donna Summer's influential hits from 1976 to 1981.

As disco began to rise up from US underground clubs, Munich-based Bellotte and Moroder added their own continental twist that would take it into every bar, radio station and supermarket.

Funk bass

The pair had already given Chicory Tip a number one hit with Son of My Father and had released three European singles with Summer when they struck disco gold.

"When it all took off for us, it was just serendipity," said Bellotte.

Donna Summer
Love to Love You Baby was the first song extended by a drum machine
"For Love to Love You Baby we incorporated a four-to-the-floor bass drum pattern which funk band The Crusaders had just used, and a hi-hat pattern that was on Rock the Boat by The Hues Corporation," he explained. "We were pretty excited by the result."

The erotic, hypnotic song became a hit after a suggestion by the late Casablanca Records head, Neil Bogart.

"He was having a party at his home and everyone was getting off on the song, so he had to keep re-playing it," said Bellotte. "He suggested making the track longer, to fill an entire side of vinyl."

The original drummer had difficulty with the timing so Moroder and Bellotte bought a music box, as used in Munich restaurants to keep the beat for "awful little one-man bands".

"The box kept a regular tempo, enabling us to easily extend the song for as long as we wanted," Bellotte said. "It was the first time a type of drum machine had been used in this manner."

We had no idea it was going to sound so special
Pete Bellotte on I Feel Love
Love to Love You Baby became a huge dancefloor and radio hit in 1976, and the following year electro anthem I Feel Love turned Bellotte and Moroder into Europe's most sought-after producers.

"I Feel Love was the last track on the concept album I Remember Yesterday, on which Donna sang the first track in a 1940s style and through various other genres until the final song was intended to represent the future," Bellotte explained.

Disco backlash

"We used a Moog synthesizer to give the song this futuristic feel, and discovered a new way to lay level upon level of sound onto the track in perfect sync. We had no idea it was going to sound so special."

The throbbing track remained funky enough for the coolest of nightclubs, and continues to inspire dance music today.

The trio notched up a further 10 hits including Love's Unkind, MacArthur Park, Hot Stuff and Bad Girls. Success also enabled Bellotte to work with Sir Elton John and R&B star Melba Moore, and to form dance duo Trax.

Donna Summer
Donna was one of those phenomenal one-take artists
Pete Bellotte
But disco's dominance came to an end in 1979 with the rise of punk in the UK and a vocal US backlash inspired by criticism of its black and gay origins.

"In New York I remember seeing graffiti everywhere saying 'disco sucks'," said Bellotte. "I knew it was the end of an era. 'Disco' became a dirty word for a long time."

Record company Geffen delayed the release of the trio's final album, I'm a Rainbow, for 15 years. Bellotte parted company with Summer in 1981 and Moroder in 1984, after the pair collaborated on a new soundtrack for Fritz Lang's Metropolis.

The British producer took an extended break from music before setting up a recording studio in West Sussex.

Renewed interest

"I'm looking for a new singer at the moment but my standards are just incredibly high," he said.

"Donna was one of those phenomenal one-take artists - she could just come in, sing the song and go. She was always spot on."

Beyonce
Beyonce revived Love to Love You Baby on recent hit Naughty Girl
He is delighted by the renewed interest in disco by chart stars such as Scissor Sisters, Kylie Minogue and Beyonce Knowles, who revived Love to Love You Baby on her recent hit Naughty Girl.

Nevertheless Bellotte has wide tastes in music and is currently most impressed by stylish US rock band The Killers.

While he was unable to attend the Dance Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony, at which The Bee Gees and the late Barry White were also praised, Bellotte was "very pleased" with the honour.

"Dance music has become such a big thing now, I expect its influence to just keep growing and growing," he said. "It is very nice to be remembered."


SEE ALSO:
Disco stars to enter Hall of Fame
04 Sep 04  |  Entertainment
Music Hall of Fame gets TV launch
07 May 04  |  Entertainment
Later celebrates 150th programme
07 May 04  |  Entertainment
Harrison and Prince in fame hall
16 Mar 04  |  Entertainment
In pictures: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
16 Mar 04  |  In Pictures


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