Nile Rodgers - Musician & Producer
The career of Nile Rodgers is one of the most enduring and prolific in music. Nile’s signature is scrawled across an amazing array of music – from Madonna to Diana Ross, from David Bowie to Eric Clapton.
Nile first picked up a guitar while still in and by the age of 19, he not only worked for Sesame Street, but was performing nightly as part of the house band for the world renowned Apollo Theatre in Harlem, playing with luminaries such as Aretha Franklin, Parliament Funkadelic, Ben E. King, and The Cadillacs.
Eager to start his own band, Nile teamed up with Bernard Edwards, whose perfectly meticulous bass seamlessly complemented Nile’s precise guitar. The two were confident enough of their synergy to introduce the world to Chic in 1977.
“Dance, Dance, Dance”, the first single off Chic’s eponymous début, hit the Top 10 and they never looked back. 1978 yielded their second hit, “Everybody Dance”, while a third single, “Le Freak”, hit No. 1 and became Warner Brothers’ biggest selling single of all time. The dynamic duo of Edwards and Rodgers finished off the year by releasing their second album, C’est Chic , which went directly into the Top 5.
The year 1979 brought more hit singles and a third Chic album, Risqué . While they still kept their day job as the Chic front men they also produced and composed the album We Are Family by Sister Sledge and did the same on Diana, the best selling album by Diana Ross, featuring her smash singles, “Upside Down” and “I’m Coming Out”. And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then surely the Sugarhill Gang’s appropriation of the bass line from “Good Times” as the bass line for 1980s seminal rap song “Rapper’s Delight” is an outstanding tribute.
In the ’80s, Nile collaborated with David Bowie, offering music lovers Let’s Dance , the biggest selling record in Bowie’s career, and the hits “China Girl”, “Modern Love”, and “Let’s Dance”, proving that an R&B guy could produce pop and rock. He followed it up by working with a girl from Michigan named Madonna, on a little record called Like A Virgin, which went on to sell 14 million copies in the United States alone. Nile then produced Duran Duran’s “The Reflex” single, which stayed at No. 1 for 15 weeks.
After more production collaborations on Duran’s “Wild Boys” single and the Notorious album, Nile went on to work with a staggering array of musicians – ranging from Mick Jagger on his She’s The Boss record, INXS’ groundbreaking “Original Sin” single, The Thompson Twins’ Here’s To Future Days, Grace Jones’ Inside Story, the B-52’s Cosmic Thing, Eric Clapton’s Jimi Hendrix tribute album, Stone Free, Paula Abdul, and the unforgettable Beavis and Butthead Experience.
Perhaps there is not a more fitting tribute than the one Nile received in Japan in 1996. Selected among his peers as Billboard magazine’s Top Producer in the World, he was honoured as JT Super Producer. Nile was invited to Japan to perform a retrospective of his career, and was joined by Bernard Edwards, Sister Sledge, Steve Winwood, Simon Le Bon and Slash, as they performed the hits that Nile took part in creating.
The We Are Family Foundation was established by Nile in July 2002 to promote tolerance and multiculturalism education and to support victims of intolerance, and has since extended its program with several high profile projects.
Borne out of the events of September 11 th , the project began with a re-recording of We Are Family with over 200 celebrities and an accompanying music video directed by Spike Lee; an 80 minute documentary entitled The Making and Meaning of We Are Family which débuted at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival to a standing ovation; an unprecedented recording and music video of over 100 famous children’s characters singing We Are Family that aired simultaneously on Disney Channel, Nickelodeon and PBS on March 11, 2002; a National We Are Family Day spearheaded for passage in Congress by former Senator Robert Dole and Senator Orrin Hatch; limited edition prints of an interpretive artwork entitled “We Are Family” by world renowned artist Francesco Clemente; and a We Are Family exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Utah launched during the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
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