Giorgio Moroder Still Feels Love at 77

For this gig at Schimanski, Mr. Moroder was celebrating the birthday of Ms. Summer’s seminal disco classic “I Feel Love,” which, five years after her death from cancer, was turning 40.

I Feel Love – Donna Summer Video by Doug Flashboy

Mr. Moroder isn’t cocky about what he has accomplished or the comeback he’s enjoying. In person, he comes across less like the mac daddy of disco, and more like its avuncular Mr. Magoo.

He went to Studio 54 just once during its heyday and recalls spending much of the evening fretting that “I Feel Love” hadn’t sounded on its speakers the way he’d wanted it to. “It was the way I split up the bass between the left and the right side,” Mr. Moroder said. “It was a small thing which bothered me.”

Photo

Few in attendance were alive when “I Feel Love” first came out, but they knew who Mr. Moroder is.

Credit
Krista Schlueter for The New York Times

Other than high-calorie food, his main vice is the occasional shot of vodka, which he takes after his D.J. sets are over. His clothes (black Hugo Boss shirt, black pants from who knows where and Prada shoes) are nondescript. The most louche thing about him is his mustache.

Also, there are no groupies in his dressing room, though they do try to get in, according to his wife, Francisca, who this evening stood guard by the door in a white dress.

When Mr. Moroder teamed up with Ms. Summer in 1974, he was a Munich-based composer from the province of South Tyrol in Italy, whose previous hits had a Beach Boys-by-way-of-Saint-Tropez feel. Ms. Summer was a singer in the traveling European cast of “Hair,” trying “to survive,” he said.

Their 1974 pop album had a couple of minor hits in Europe but failed to land her an American record deal. Then, as groups such as the Love Unlimited Orchestra and the Hues Corporation popularized the disco sound, Ms. Summer recorded “Love to Love You Baby,” an erotic cornucopia that featured her mimicking an orgasm as she pleaded to a lover, “Do it to me again and again.”

The way Mr. Moroder recalled it, he and Ms. Summer figured the song was an experiment that would go nowhere. “We both thought it would be a little too much,” he said.

Instead, as it went to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent four weeks atop the dance charts, Casablanca Records signed her and sent Mr. Moroder…

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