It had to be the summer of 1974 –  Donna was doing Munich night club circuit and had to her credit one LP, Lady of the Night, which never made it outside of Europe and was mainly known in the Netherlands. When she gave me a copy of  it, I had said to her jokingly: I should ask you to sign it, then I could say, I knew you when!  To that she gave me a wistful look  In the same vein I asked her whether she would ever consider posing for Playboy, to which she answered, also in jest, with this bod of mine? Gesturing and running her eyes down the entire frame of her skinny self. The album remained un-autographed. I still have it. Wishing that I she had autographed it.  But never mind, what matters to me the most is: it was held and touched by her. And most importantly listened by me and our Munich friends over and over again. In spite of her phenomenal success that followed, the two songs that have remained with me are from that album. The title track of course,  and the sad  slow ballad,  full of emptiness, which also appears in two versions on the flip side of her now landmark, love to love you baby album.

By then, she had been living in Munich for some time. Originally brought there by the German production of Hair, now making ends meet by performing at small clubs, which Munich had aplenty. I remember chauffeuring her around to and from a couple of those venues. Reminiscing of those days, my friend Michelle (Davis-Scharrnbeck) recalls:  I can only remember meeting her  once or twice with Britt (Walker) and the memories are also a bit fuzzy. Before I knew who she was, and met through you, I had seen her while she was working at a small boutique in Schwabing near the Kunst Akadamie. I have more of a lasting memory of her from those brief encounters. She seemed so fragile, lovable and “schutzbedürftig”, (needing of protection).

Bidding her time and waiting for her big break. Munich for her turned out to be being at the right place at the right time. In early to mid-seventies, Munich was where it was happening. During those years, it wouldn’t have been unusual to run into one of the Stones, especially Mick Jaeger and Keith Richards or Led Zeppelin and Elton John  at one of the two “in” discotheques: Why Not? and  P1. The places I too frequented, if not that often.  They all came to record at the Musicland Studios owned by the record producer Giorgio Moroder, whose partner Pete Bellotte had produced Lady of the Night.

But the place and the night I most remember was the night when after dinner we all had ended up at another popular disco, Yellow Submarine, sunk deep into the Holiday Inn on Leopoldstrasse, where I got to dance with Donna. I am not a good dancer by any dint of imagination, but when a couple of drinks and the music moves me, I can’t just sit still. I would be one of the first ones to jump up and strut  out to the dance floor. How well I dance, I don’t know. More like you could see my head bopping up and down or sideways like the head of a kathakali doll on a coiled spring, with the flashing psychedelic lights breaking up the bodies on the floor into sparkling slivers.  I was absolutely no match for this soul lady so gracefully swaying in front of me, with her every move so naturally elegant and effortless. While awkwardly trying to imitate her it was awesome just to stand there and watch her groove to John McCrae’s Rock Your Baby, Barry White’s Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love Baby or to the ear-splitting screaming of the pint-sized fireball, Susie Quatro’s The Wild One.

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