S1: Welcome to Hit Parade podcast pop chart history from Slate magazine about the hits from coast to coast. I’m Chris Melaniphy, chart analyst, pop critic and writer of Slate’s Why Is This Song No. One series on today’s show? Forty two years ago this month, in January 1979, there was unrest in Iran, gas prices reaching new highs, both U.S. unemployment and interest rates spiking. And the number one song in America sounded like a hedonistic party that would never end.
S2: At first, this appears to be an instructional disco record with lines like, have you heard about the new dance craze? Allow us. We’ll show you the way and find your spot out on the floor. It invites you to freak out and even name checks. Storeyed New York nightclub Studio 54. But this hit live freak by Chic was equal parts party and protest. It was a danceable lament against a nightclub. Yep. That club that had denied entry to the songs to writers that denied duo were Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers. They co-wrote May Freak. They co-produced it and it was powered by Edwards popping bassline and Rodgers infectious scratching guitar underpinning the commanding female vocals of Alpha Anderson and Diva Grey.
S3: She specialized in this club ready music. The majority of their songs were danceable. Several even have the word dance right in the title repeated like a mantra and.
S4: However simple and plain spoken, these lyrics, chics arrangements were complex, detailed, cutting edge, and their name was truth in advertising.
S1: In an era of bellbottom jeans and polyester leisurewear, Chic were just that stylish, natty, elegant, with Rodgers, Edwards and drummer Tony Thompson in sharp suits and their array of singers led by Alpha Anderson in reinvented jazz age outfits, Chic looked like a very classy throwback, but their music sounded like the future. However unwittingly, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of Shiek were helping to invent the sound of the next decade, there were bands that formed specifically to emulate elements of their style. There were also records produced by the Shiek Mastermind’s that gave pop legends some of their biggest hits, sat down while you turn me inside.
S4: Round and round, Nile Rodgers would turn certain rock icons into pop stars from the dawn of MTV.
S2: But it does days to the dawn of the 1990s.
S1: Go around and Chics Sound was pilfered by chart topping bands that Rodgers and Edwards had no hand in producing. Another one bites the dust. Another one bites the dust, and they even accidentally launched the most important musical shift of the last 40 years. I said to him, they hit it. They committed a hit hop. You don’t stop the rocket to the bang, bang, bang. I say up just the get to the rhythm of opening it and be today on hit parade. We will chronicle the chart history of what group co-founder Niall Rogers calls the Chic Organization. It’s like a Marvel Cinematic Universe of pop, not just a band, but a universe of acts indebted to, produced and shepherded up the charts by the alumni of Chic from the late 70s right through the first two decades of the 21st century.
S5: You know something like this. I like to get some shoes up on my phone and my phone rings again. Like you’d think a band with this much influence on Rock’s trajectory would have been shoo ins for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
S3: Yeah, funny story. Well, maybe not so funny. I’ll get to that.
S1: Perhaps. Chics Fate with rock fans was sealed the week they scored their final chart topping hit.
S2: And that’s where your hit parade marches today, the week ending August 18th, 1979, when Shiek topped the Billboard Hot 100 with good times, not only their last number one hit, but their last top 40 hit. One week later, good times would be ejected by a new number one that rock fans in 1979 regarded as a blow against bands like Chic. But as we’ll discuss, Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers scarcely disappeared from the top of the charts. They kept the good times coming for decades.
S6: Somewhere between five and.
S5: Enjoying this rock song, Hungry Like the Wolf Duran Duran breakthrough hit in America topped Billboard’s Rock Tracks chart in early 1983, indicating strong airplay on album oriented rock stations. It topped the rock chart months before peaking at number three on the Hot 100. The members of Chic had nothing to do with this Duran Duran classic, but in a way Chic had everything to do with it.
S3: One common and misbegotten notion about popular music is the idea that a new style or genre will eradicate a previous one. The emerging musical format might become more popular, might even make the older style uncool.
S5: But the older style typically doesn’t just drop off the charts and down by.
S1: For example, the U.S. breakthrough of the Beatles in 1964, which spawned the British invasion in America, did make it harder for easy listening crooners, girl groups and dual. But none of that music went away. In fact, several of the acts that were hitmakers before the Beatles, like Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, continued to be hitmakers into the late 60s and beyond. You’re just too good to be true. Can’t take my eyes off. The same went for the 1991 breakthrough of Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl.
S5: 90S grunge and its offshoots did make hair metal far less successful commercially.
S2: But alternative rock didn’t actually kill Neville, Neville just retooled its sound for the era of grunge. It adapted to survive.
S6: Well, I don’t know anything. No, no know.
S1: Probably one of the biggest myths about rock history, however, was the disco, quote unquote, died at the start of the 1980s.
S3: Let’s be clear. Disco didn’t actually die.
S1: Just a couple of years into the 1980s, Michael Jackson and Madonna were retooling disco as New Wave dance music.
S5: Certainly by the end of the 70s, the word disco started to become commercial poison in previous hypocrite episodes, we’ve dissected what the so-called death of disco actually meant.
S1: I’ve talked about how the BJ’s stopped topping the charts after 1979. But then Barry Gibb and his brothers became potent songwriters and producers on a variety of 80s hits for other artists.
S4: I’ve also discussed how Donna Summer was both elevated and then dragged down by her status as the 70s queen of disco.
S1: But Sommer found ways to adapt to the 80s and still score big hits. However, no disco associated act arguably adapted better to the 1980s and beyond than the members of Chic.
S5: The work of Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, both with Chic and with other acts they collaborated with, not only contradicts the notion that disco was a Short-Lived phenomenon, it also makes a mockery of the very idea that rock killed disco.
S1: If anything, rock in the 80s absorbed and co-opted the sleekness, the instrumental polish and even the rhythms of disco. Some like it hot and some sweat. Disco was always part of rock and roll, and it continued to inform rock long after the 70s, rockers from the 80s and beyond emulated the rhythmic suppleness of bands like Chic and. Still, the story of the universe of hits right through the 2010s is one of both adaptation and underestimation.
S3: Their family tree branched out in many unpredictable directions. Perhaps the mutability of the shiek sound grew out of the members cross cultural backgrounds. In fact, early on, the band’s founders, especially surviving member Nile Rodgers, weren’t really trying to play dance music at all.
S1: Around 1968 in the Bronx, New York, 15 year old Nile Rodgers was trying to teach himself to play this Beatles song. The precocious teenager couldn’t understand why a day in the life sounded so terrible on the guitar he’d gotten for Christmas. In his autobiography, Lay Freak, Rogers recalls the day when his mother’s live in boyfriend came home from work and taught him to tune his guitar properly so that the chords in young Nilles Beatles songbook would sound right.
S7: A crowd of people stood on stage.
S1: This impromptu guitar lesson was one of the happier moments in Nilles tumultuous childhood.
S3: Born in 1952 to a 13 year old Beverly Goodman, young Nijole only saw his biological father, a traveling musician named Nile Rogers Senior, on occasion. And then usually when his dad was inebriated, his mother and his white stepfather, both heroin addicts, largely raised young Nijole. But for the first six years of his life, Nijole shuttled back and forth between New York and L.A. and a series of homes belonging to relatives or his mom’s boyfriends. Still, young Nijole possessed a great deal of his father’s innate skill, and he grew up surrounded by music, learning both the flute and the clarinet in school before trying to transpose clarinet chords onto his first guitar. Rogers later said that his ability to read music thanks to his years with wind instruments, set him apart from other guitarists and got him gigs in his late teens and 20s. Indeed, once the teenager moved out on his own and settled in Manhattan in the late 60s, he discovered he’d stumbled onto an ideal scene for a budding musician funded by.
S5: Nile Rodgers began hanging out at legendary Manhattan Club, Max’s Kansas City, the home venue for the Velvet Underground, whom Rogers saw multiple times by his own admission. Rogers was not a soul man, but a hippie, and he was more into the armed guard and jazz music his stepfather loved.
S3: Rogers actually played at Max’s himself, and in his book, he compares his first band called New World Rising, a quote, jazz, blues, rock fusion electrified band that was unfortunately never recorded to such groovy, jazz inflected acts of the time as blood, sweat and tears and elephant’s memory.
S4: Max’s Kansas City was to Nile Rodgers what the Kaiser Keller in Hamburg was to the Beatles, the club where he honed his chops, he began studying with jazz and classical guitarists.
S3: And by the early 70s, Rogers was professional enough to score an audition for a touring gig. This gig, which Nial calls the moment he turned pro, was with, well, again, not the most predictable project.
S4: The hit PBS children’s program, Sesame Street hired Nile Rodgers as a guitarist for its live roadshow. He toured the country and met the show’s cast, won.
S1: Sesame Street cast member Loretta Long, who played Susan on the show, got Rodgers his next gig, the House band at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater I. There’s a man on Roger’s very first night at the Apollo, he backed up the madcap legendarily theatrical Screamin Jay Hawkins, who hazed the new guitarist by chasing Nijole around the stage in skeleton makeup. More seriously, the old timers in the Apollo Band finally taught Nihil how to really play funk and soul with R and B notation. To that point, Rodgers was a straight classical and jazz trained player. The Apollo gave Nijole his groove, which he then poured into more club and session O. Oh, I you.
S5: One night at a gig in the Bronx by journeyman Jack Bartholomew, Nihil jumped on stage to join the band, and he met a nattily dressed bassist named Bernard Edwards, raised in Brooklyn. Edwards was the same age as Rogers. They were born just weeks apart. But Edwards was a more traditional R and B player.
S1: What set him apart was his distinctive fleet fingered shucking approach on the bass that night in the Bronx.
S3: As Nile Rodgers recalls in his autobiography, Bernard Edwards was dressed in a polished outfit of silk slacks and a pattern shirt. He was not terribly impressed with Nile Rodgers hippie threads and groovy vibe.
S1: But Bernard or Nade, as Nile came to call him, had to admit that this hippie dude on the guitar could play when the band shifted into the Meaders syncopated funk classic Sissy Strutt, Nile turned on a dime and played along with the two men became, Rodgers says, inseparable. By 1973, Edwards landed a gig that would prove pivotal for the both of them. He became the musical director for an RB vocal troupe calling itself New York City and New York City. The group had an actual hit on the charts. I’m doing fine now was a number 17 hit on the hot 100 in June of 73.
S5: Contrary to their name, New York City’s sound was Philadelphia Soul, the R&D style that was in vogue at the time made famous by Philly producers like Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Tom Bell as the backing band for New York City.
S1: Bernard Edwards and his guitarist friend Nile Rodgers would need to play in these contemporary RB styles. So they assembled an independent band to back up New York City and potentially other singers. Edwards and Rodgers called their troupe the Big Apple based.
S8: This BJ’s cover is by the Big Apple band, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, fronted by a singer named Bobby Cauter even before the formation of Chic. You can hear their playing styles establishing themselves. Edwards patented Chuck Bass style is now complemented by Rogers equally rhythmic, danceable funk and guitar and irresistibly syncopated style that Edwards encouraged Rodgers to play to complement his baseline.
S3: The band also attracted several other talented players, their drummer was Tony Thompson and ace session player who had backed such bands as Hitmakers Lobell of Lady Marmalade fame.
S4: Your Daddy, Momma.
S1: On several gigs, the Big Apple Band was also joined by young vocalist Luther Vandross. Like Nile Rodgers, Vandross had gotten an early break on no kidding, Sesame Street in the show’s first season. We’re on our way. So here we go. Well, by 1974, Vandross was rapidly emerging as a go to session vocalist. He sang on and arranged the backing vocals for the album Young Americans, David Bowie’s Smash Foray into R and B. She was a young American. Vandross, in turn, would introduce Rodgers and Edwards to a potent female vocalist who toured with the spinners and would one day be a soloist in her own right, Miss Norma Jean. Right. Dancin to the.
S3: Gradually, the Big Apple band developed a following of their own, independent of New York City, and for a hot second it looked like they would become a standalone R and B funk act.
S1: They even recorded a single in 1976 credited to the Big Apple band called Party and Get On Down. Just write it all down. But then fate intervened. This 1976 smash, a Fifth of Beethoven, a disco arrangement of the classical composers Fifth Symphony, was recorded by New York based composer Walter Murphy needing a band name for his new single, Murphy.
S5: Coincidentally, and much to the chagrin of Nile, Rodgers and Bernard, Edwards dubbed his backing players the Big Apple Band.
S3: So once a fifth of Beethoven now credited to Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band reached number one on the Hot 100 in the fall of 1976, Rodgers and Edwards realized their unrelated band needed a new name. And the ever sophisticated Bernard Edwards proposed the name. Nile Rodgers wasn’t so sure about his partner’s idea. She sounded funny to him, a bit pretentious, but he couldn’t come up with anything better. And Nile did have some heady ideas of his own about how the band could maintain its chic mystique. He took cues from a pair of rock bands he admired.
S9: While visiting London in the early 70s, Rogers caught a club gig by the British art rockers Roxy Music. Nigel was wowed not only by their intricate musicianship, but by their glam style, especially debonair lead singer Bryan Ferry. Then when Nigel went to a record store to buy some Roxy Music albums, he realized none of the band members appeared on the LP jackets.
S1: Only glamorous models like For Your Pleasures, covergirl Amanda Lere or Playboy model Marilyn Cole, who appeared on the cover of Roxie’s LP Strand. That gave Nile Rodgers one piece of the puzzle, his other inspiration, though broadly in the rock category, couldn’t have been more different from Roxy Music.
S5: And American glam metal band Kiss were dominating arenas in the mid 70s, and Rodgers got a kick out of their onstage gimmick, most notably the fact that the band only ever performed in full makeup, never revealing their faces. Nile wanted to invert what Kiss had done, writing in his memoir, quote, What if we played the faceless backup band professionally, unquote?
S3: In other words, Rodgers conceived of a band with the anonymous armor of Kiss, combined with the suave sophistication of Roxy Music. But he also wanted to play with the intricacy of the jazz acts he loved.
S1: It was a good time for that, too, because by the mid 70s, leading jazz players whom Niall admired were branching out into funk and RB, including Herbie Hancock and.
S5: And Roy Ayers, by 1976, even Nilles beloved Roxy Music for recording Rock with an R and B rhythm like their first American hit the disco rock hybrid.
S10: Love is the drug for the.
S1: I’m thinking she would combine all of these influences, Urbain mystique, theatrical blankness, jazzy intricacy. But the secret weapon would be the band’s skill. They had a killer bassist, lead guitarist and drummer, plus access to top shelf vocalists and their first recording showed off all of that.
S2: Nile Rodgers wrote Everybody dance as essentially a flex, a showcase for Chic. It was a real workout, a bass part.
S1: Rogers New Nobody but Edwards could play a relentless four on the floor beat that Tony Thompson nailed and the chicken scratch guitar that had become Niall’s own signature. Plus, their vocal arranger, Luther Vandross brought in class a vocalist’s diva, Grey Robin Clark and himself together on background vocals and on lead vocal Norma Jean Wright.
S2: And that the song would set a template for chic simplicity, masking complexity. The lyrics seemed dopey and decadent. Its chorus was just an ultra basic everybody dance, clap your hands punctuated by a scatting doo doo doo doo. But that seemingly mindless surface sat atop intricate vocal arrangements and instrumental chops. The record was so catchy, even those sheep were not yet signed to a label. Local New York club. The Night Owl began spinning a lack of test, pressing. The song wasn’t even on vinyl yet, and the crowd yelled for the D.J. to play it over and over. When Nile Rodgers visited the night owl and told them he did everybody dance, they treated him like a king all.
S3: Everybody dance was Chics first recording, but it would not be their eventual first single, having found their formula. The band recorded another dance floor directed jam.
S1: This time, Nile Rodgers wrote the song with Bernard Edwards. He was no nonsense and had a knack for simplifying Niall’s overly busy arrangements. Still, this was another complex Arnab track with jazzy chords punctuated by seemingly frivolous lyrics. Its title, Dance, Dance, Dance and its parenthetical subtitle, which was a jazz phrase that dated to the roaring 20s. Yowza. Yowza. Yowza. It was the infectious dance, dance, dance, yowza, yowza, yowza that finally got Shiek, signed to a label in 1977, the storied Atlantic Records, which had already passed on the group previously the celebrated label founded by Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler, was once renowned for its R and B Atlantic was built in the 50s and 60s by such legends as Ray Charles Mammo. To Treat Me Wrong, Come and love your daddy. But Solomon Burke.
S4: And lest we forget, Miss Aretha Franklin.
S1: But by the 70s, Atlantic had become better known for such huge selling white rock acts as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Teenage.
S12: And Led Zeppelin.
S3: This perhaps explains the label’s blind spot for a band like Chic, Atlantic wasn’t primarily a black music mecca anymore, but when the smaller label Budha Records issued an early pressing of chics dance, dance, dance single and scored immediate deejay and dance floor buzz and.
S1: Atlantics president belatedly realised the song was a smash in the making Atlantic signed Chic and reissued Dance, Dance, Dance in the summer of 1977. By the fall, it had cracked the charts first breaking on Billboard’s dance chart, which was then called disco action. By December, it was number one in the clubs, and that’s when Chic Single broke into the pop top 40.
S5: Casey Kasem counted it down the song to the top of the disco chart this week at number 37 on American Top 40, it debuts at Dance, Dance, Dance.
S3: Aussie, Aussie, Aussie by Chic Dance, Dance, Dance eventually cracked the top 10 reaching number six on the Hot 100 in February 1978. That same month, Chic’s self-titled debut LP broke into the album charts Top 30. True to Nile Rodgers vision, the album cover emulated the Roxy Music approach. No band members, not even its female singers. Instead, a pair of models with whistles in their mouths. Eye to the camera seductively. Come on, everybody, get on your.
S2: The Chic album was certified gold by March 1978, and it generated another Top 40 hit with the band’s earliest recording, that club jam, that had wowed the Night Owl crowd over a year earlier. Everybody dance.
S13: That single reached number 38 by joining in the clubs.
S1: The Chic LP went deep, a shuffling album cut called You Can Get By, featuring a rare lead vocal by Bernard Edwards himself, followed both dance, dance, dance and everybody dance to number one on the disco chart you can check out. Much like their albums with varying players and singers on each track sheet saw themselves as a collective more than a band.
S3: In fact, when they signed with Atlantic, Rogers and Edwards formed a corporation, the Shiek Organization Ltd., to manage their array of projects. Just months after the Shiek LP came out, Edwards and Rogers produced their frequent vocalist, Norma Jean Wright’s debut solo album, Norma Jean.
S1: Released in the summer of 78, Norma Jean generated an instant smash that sounded like an extension of the suave chic brand, the number 15 r b hit Saturday.
S3: The musical Marvel Cinematic Universe of Chic was already spinning off hits in its first year to the radio record stores and the clubs, which made the origin story of their biggest hit ever.
S1: Rather ironic, Nile Rodgers had envisioned that she would be, in his word, faceless, but he soon got a hard lesson in just what Facelessness meant. It’s kind of like.
S3: Now that they were the toast of the clubs, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards spent much of 1978 going to clubs for field research as well as pure pleasure. This, of course, included famed New York nightclub Studio 54, which had opened the prior year and was already at the peak of its influence and snooty exclusivity.
S1: Among the regulars at 54 was the iconoclastic model actress and singer Grace Jones, who was just starting to score club hits of her own.
S5: Jones befriended Niall Anod and invited them to the club frequently on nights when she was there and was putting names on Studio 54 as legendary guest list. But one night when Jones was not at the club and Rodgers and Edwards were trying to get in, that’s when they had some trouble.
S3: The clipboard holders didn’t recognize them, not even as the hitmakers behind chics floor filling hits. Nothing they said or did could get them past the velvet rope, not even as Nile Rodgers recounts in this 2016 onstage live interview by trying on fake French accents.
S14: So we knock on the back door of Studio 54 and we say hello. We are personal friends of Miss Greystoke. And the guy slams the door on our faces and he says, Oh, fuck off. No, no, no, no. The back door of Studio 54 was on 53rd Street between 8th Avenue and Broadway. My apartment was on Fifty Second Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenue. So we went to my apartment and this is the first thing that we wrote. One, two. Oh, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.
S3: Studio 54. Bernard Edwards soon realized they had an actually catchy track on their hands, not just a mistake. He suggested that their F bomb could become the word freak, but freak off didn’t sound much better. So Nijole, who was familiar with LSD from his trippy hippie days, suggested, quote, How about or freak out like when you have a bad trip? So when you’re out on the dance floor losing it, you’re freaking out, unquote.
S2: And listener, that’s when the best selling single in Atlantic Records history was born to.
S13: This session.
S2: Lift freak, as the Francophile duo called their song, was unusually wordy for Chic. It was sung by Alpha Anderson, who had taken on primary vocal duties now that Norma Jean had gone solo, joined by frequent collaborator Diva Gray, and they have their work cut out for them. The chorus was once again just a chant like their prior hit Dance, Dance, Dance. But the verses were cheeky and sounded like advertising copy promising. You’ll be amazed by the new dance craze. Quote, Young and old are doing it, I’m told just one try and you two will be sold, unquote. Released in the early fall of 1978, just weeks after the singles from their first album had faded on the charts, Chics Live Freak took just seven weeks to reach number one. How big a hit was it? Here’s some fun trivia for my fellow chart nerds. The freak pulled off a rare hot 100 hat trick reaching number one three times in December 1978, when Le Freak first hit the top. It knocked out the blockbuster Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond duet. You Don’t Bring Me Flowers When?
S1: You go after one week out of the top spot, Streisand and Diamond went back to number one, replacing Le Freak. But one week after that, Le Freak ejected Barbara and Neil’s hit again and it spent two more weeks on top. Then in early January 1979, the number one spot was taken over by another ballad, the Bee Gees latest single Too Much Heaven. But Chic weren’t done after a fortnight of the brothers, Gibb on top left freak returned yet again to number one and stayed there three more weeks in total. It’s six weeks on top was greater than the Streisand Diamond and BJ’s hits combined.
S2: By the time Liv Freak’s Chartrand was over, it had been certified for sales in the U.S. alone of six million copies, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. In the 70s, a million seller was certified gold and a two million seller was certified platinum. The RIAA did not yet officially have multi platinum awards. Those would be invented in the 1980s. But unofficially, Lefranc Freak was the first ever triple platinum single since platinum awards were invented earlier in the decade. As for the Chic album, it was platinum, virtually out of the box while the freak was at number one.
S3: The week of Christmas in 1978, says Shiek reached number four on the album chart. Remarkable for an R and B based disco album by a supposedly faceless group. Even more than their self-titled debut, LP says Shiek represented the cutting edge of polished, poised dance music, particularly on the album’s second single.
S2: I Want Your Love, a number seven hit in the spring of 1979 I.
S1: With its chiming bell sounds, I Want Your Love forecasted the sound of New Wave dance music in the decade to come. Like Donna Summer, who two years earlier had spawned an entire genre of electronic dance music with I Feel Love.
S4: Chic, too, while pointing the way to the future before the 70s were even out to date, the Chic organization had given themselves a constellation of hits and produced an acclaimed album by a singer in their orbit, Norma Jean.
S3: Right now, Atlantic wanted to see if perhaps they could work their magic on an act that they never met before.
S2: One that hadn’t had a hit in years.
S4: Sister Sledge were true to their name, a family foursome composed of singers and sisters Debbie Jonie, Kim and Kathy Sledge, this 1975 single Love Don’t Go Through No Changes on Me was their breakthrough and a minor hit reaching number 31 on the R and B chart in 1975.
S3: But for the next three years, Sister Sledge came nowhere near the upper reaches of the charts when Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers took on Sister Sledge in late 1978.
S2: Well, it worked like a charm. I really wasn’t Kevin, but I felt my. Out in the crowd, he’s the greatest dancer was the lead single from Sister Sledge’s 1979 studio album. It topped the R and B chart and got the sisters into the top 40 on the pop chart for the first time where they reached number nine. Rogers had to convince the religiously raised sisters, particularly lead singer Cathy Sledge, to sing the line. My creme de la Creme, Please Take Me Home, which implied a Studio 54 era one night stand. The Sledge women had never even been to a disco, but they sang the line as instructed and like they owned it. According to Rogers, he may have even invented the now common hip hop trope of shouting out brand names when Cathy sang Goateed.
S1: Yaguchi, from the moment it dropped the Sister Sledge album, sounded like a chic backed Greatest Hits album. Every track was a banger, and many of them scored club black and pop radio airplay like the R and B hit Lost in Music. But.
S15: And my all time favorite Shiek organization, single Thinking of you, I love you and the things you did to me that makes me love you now.
S1: Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the album’s title, which might ring a bell.
S2: We are family. Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers wrote the album’s title track specifically for Sister Sledge. It belonged to the nation in 1979, a feel good sing along in a year of national malaise. The song was even later adopted by the 79 Pittsburgh Pirates, a backdrop to their World Series championship.
S1: The We Are Family single went gold and brought Sister Sledge not only back to number one on the RB chart, but to number two on the pop chart, sandwiched between Donna Summer’s hot stuff and Anita Ward’s ring, my bell.
S4: It was a great summer for black female anthems on the Hot 100, and Sister Sledge’s hit was the most anthemic of all.
S2: You would think we our family would rank as Rodgers and Edwards greatest achievement in 1979, not even close, she scored a hit under their own name that year that not only brought them back to number one, but remains their greatest legacy.
S3: The baseline that launched a thousand ships Chics all time most immortal hit the song that would inspire countless other artists and songs was itself inspired by an earlier hit.
S1: In a story that may be apocryphal, Nile Rodgers claims he was trying to come up with a variation on his favorite Kool in the Gang song, which got.
S5: Hollywood swinging is a highlight of cool in the gangs early years as a hard funk group, it reached number one on B number six pop in 1974, and Nile Rodgers loved its relentless groove.
S1: The guitar line that he came up with while noodling in the studio was inspired by, but not a copy of Hollywood Swinging.
S16: As you can hear in this YouTube recreation, it has the same strut, the same chicken scratch chug, but its own unforgettable melody.
S3: Now, here’s the amazing thing, as catchy as nails guitar line is, it’s not even the most iconic part of the song. That would be the percolating walking line that Bernard Edwards laid down in the studio.
S1: Nile Rodgers claims that Edwards came up with it on the spot. That baseline, the thump, thump, thump, followed by an irresistible strolling melody, made the song indelible. And Rodgers and Edwards paired this sturdy melodic backdrop with joyous lyrics that were wistful and knowingly ironic. Quote, The country was undergoing the worst economic downturn in 1979 that it’s seen since, like the Great Depression, Rodgers said in a 2002 interview. So when we wrote Good Times, what did we do? We went back to the Great Depression, straight up Al Jolson. Jolson sang The Stars are going to Twinkle and Shine this evening about a quarter to nine. So our lyrics are Happy Days are here again, unquote. Again, with stellar synchronized vocals from chics to woman, one man team of Alpha Anderson, Lucy Martin and Fonzi Thornton Good Times was the ultimate expression of chics jazzy future nostalgia vibe. It fused Al Jolson with George Clinton, Cole Porter with Kool in the Gang, the Roaring 20S, with the Disco 70s, and by August 1979, Good Times, the lead single from Chics acclaimed third album Risque had topped the Hot 100 with the most popular song in America this week as determined by Billboard magazine.
S17: Here, Chic and Good Time.
S1: Of course, if that Bernard Edwards bass line sounds familiar to you, it’s because you’ve probably heard it before and not just on that Shiekh song. The Good Times bass line traveled everywhere, most famously or infamously, depending on your point of view on this historic of if you don’t stop the boogity bang bang the beginning of the M.B. We talked about the seminal Rapper’s Delight by the Sugarhill Gang three years ago in our Def Jam’s edition of Hit Parade, one of the first recorded rap singles and the first period to crack the Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked at number 36. Rapper’s Delight is notorious for borrowing or biting or, let’s just say it, stealing the baseline from good times. To be fair, it’s not a sample at the direction of Sugar Hill records mogul Sylvia Robinson, who needed a sturdy backdrop for the rhymes of emcees. Wonder Mike. Right. Big bank Hank Jackson and Masterji O’Brien. The Good Times Bass Hook was replayed by a studio bassist. It’s either Bernard Roland or Chip Shearin. Sources differ on who it actually was, but even rerecorded. It’s the same bassline the Sugarhill team meant to recreate good times. That was the point. No, but you know what? It must have been chosen, by the way, baby. What do you make? I go by the name Lois Lane and you not to argue that the ends justify the means, but if, as they say, great artists steal, then great art steals from the best. Rapper’s Delight established rap as a recorded medium, coined the very term hip hop and you might say made the good times look even more immortal than it already was. Of course, it was still musical larceny within months. Good Times co-writer Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers were given writing credits and eventually royalties on the song. Rodgers, still to this day, will throw in rhymes from Rapper’s Delight into his live performances of Good Time. Now it’s hard to really blame Sylvia Robinson’s team for biting that baseline. They weren’t the only ones stealing it.
S3: Barely six months after Rapper’s Delight peaked on the charts, music fans heard this from a British rock group, not a rap crew pumping from their radio.
S1: Works for the Dow, just blew it out, Queens, another one bites the dust, topped the hot 100 in the fall of 1980. You can think of this not as a Sugar Hill style recreation, but a rock interpellation written by Queens bassist John Deacon. The dust borrows most of the good times. Bassline transposes a or two and creates a new song from it. But the lineage is still hard to miss. And this similarity was no accident. In 1979, while recording their respective albums Risque and The Game, Chic met John Deacon and the members of Queen. In a later interview with British Pop magazine New Musical Express, Chics Bernard Edwards stated, With no small amount of shade, quote, That queen record came about because that queen bass player spent some time hanging out with us in our studio, unquote. Honestly, the Chic duo could have spent a lot of time in court. That bassline reappeared in somewhat less obvious contexts on other hits such as Blondie’s 1981. No. One Rapture. Another hip hop landmark. Or on Grandmaster Flash, his turntable workout, The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the wheels of steel after a gun battle or a decade later on this rap hit by Father M.S. coming up with Jodeci, a 15 year old girl like the. And deeper into the 90s on this, Will Smith. Yeah, I believe it’s all good.
S5: I love it. I mean, it’s all good.
S1: However you hear it, whether from Shiek themselves or some other artist biting it, good times will probably never disappear. And heck, thank heaven for that.
S16: Back in 1979, however, the notoriety of good times had nothing to do with its baseline. It was seen as the last stand in a now infamous insurrectionist cultural. Sachs discuss such discussions, disconcert and.
S4: Resist and we will thrive. We’ve talked about the disco sucks movement on hit parade multiple times.
S16: It plagued the careers of Donna Summer, the Bee Gees and countless other disco era acts for Chic. In particular, it was awkwardly timed. Goodtimes was rising on the charts just as Chicago deejay Steve Dahl was organizing his infamous disco demolition night in Comiskey Park in July of 1979 and in August of 79, one week after it went to number one, good times was ushered out of the top spot by a song that rock fans were quite openly rooting for, according to Nile Rodgers. This was not a coincidence.
S5: Wow, look over my shoulder, my Sharona by new wave rockers Vannak not only ejected Shiekh from number one, it spent six weeks there winding up as the top song of 1979, an upset victory in that disco dominant year.
S16: Whether through bad luck or this cultural sea change, Chic never returned not only to no one but to the entire billboard Top 40, their next single, The Sterling My Forbidden Lover, with the same triple teamed vocals by Alfa, Lucy and Fonzi.
S2: Stalled at number 43, a lowly peak for the follow up to a number one hit. Happy days were not here again, chics two year imperial phase was over.
S16: However, the careers of Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards most certainly were not over. They were bitter at the Disco Sucks campaign to this day. Nile blames it for the change in their chart fortunes. But even as their star faded as artists, their next decade would only burnish their legend. And it all started with a new client who was a legend herself.
S1: Former Supreme Diana Ross was one of the highest profile stars of the 70s, but for such a luminary, she had a surprisingly hit or miss chart career.
S16: Songs by Diana Ross would either hit No. One like Ain’t No Mountain High Enough or Love Hangover, or they would miss the top 10, the top 20, even the top 40 entirely. By 1979, Diana Ross hadn’t had a major hit in about three years, but Motown was looking to cement her comeback. They had just gotten her song The Boss into the top 20. And they thought maybe with the help of the hottest duo in dance music, Diana could do even better. Enter Nijole and Bernard.
S1: Diana Ross was easily the highest profile client the Chic organization had ever taken on, and Rogers and Edwards were anxious to get it right. The recording sessions for the album that would be dubbed simply Diana reportedly went, well, friendly, convivial. But by 1980, when Ross heard Nijole and Nades mixes for the album, that’s when things got shorter and.
S18: John, and the people, you always play the field. I’m Chris.
S5: Thank you all, what you’re hearing is the original mix of upside down a future smash from the Diana album, but Ross did not care for the cavernous easy arrangement and in true diva fashion, she wanted her vocals both better recorded and more prominent in the mix. So over Edwards and Roger’s objections, Ross went back into the studio with Motown engineer Russ Turana, and she both rerecorded her vocals and restructured the entire mix. The new version of Upside Down sounded like this respectfully, I think, to the you when no one makes me feel like you do.
S12: I sat down, you tell me.
S1: Here’s the thing, Diana is a legend for a reason. She was basically right. Her retaken vocals were better and the remix sounded better, more direct, less cluttered, perfect for the radio. That said, Rodgers and Edwards had written her some killer songs, arguably the best of her solo career Upside Down My Old Piano.
S19: Oh, my God.
S1: And my personal favorite, a not so secret homage to Diana’s gay fans that Nile Rodgers called I’m coming out, but even that brilliant fanfare of a song needed a retail. Need a break out of the shell? I have to shout I am.
S5: I don’t you know, I got tired and so Diana needed to inhabit the chic songs and make them her own yet again, the second take of I’m coming out with new vocals and a punchier mix was much improved.
S4: Rodgers and Edwards either out of respect or Peake probably both briefly considered taking their names off the album in favor of Russ Turana as the producer of Record, but they thought better of it when they realized their client, Diana Ross, was hopping like, you never know.
S5: Oh, I’ll make it through. However bumpy the journey, the Diana album was the best of all possible worlds. It combined brilliant songwriting, playing and singing by the chic organization Bernard Edwards, Nile Rodgers and Tony Thompson, plus backing vocals from Alpha Anderson, Lucy Martin and Fonzi Thornton with the sharp ears and pop instincts of the Motown hit Factory. The Diana album reached number two on the Billboard album chart. Its lead single Upside Down, returned Ross to number one on the Hot 100 and the follow up I’m coming out. Reached number five, a remarkable peak for a thinly veiled, lovingly delivered LGBTQ anthem in the year 1980 and ability.
S10: There’s so much more to me somehow.
S1: So for at least one post disco project, Team Chic had kept the machine rolling, like Barry Gibb and his brothers on Barbra Streisand’s blockbuster 1980 album, Guilty Of.
S2: Bernard Edwards and Nile Rogers had spent the first year after the Disco Sucks movement, succeeding via a smash LP fronted by a classic diva.
S1: They were grateful to have something to tote up in the win column, whereas the fourth studio album by Chic called Real People. I want to get my underperformed on the charts, barely scraping the top 30, its lead single, the Lucy Martin Showcase Rebels are we topped out at a lowly number? Sixty one on the hot 100, although it did make the RB top 10.
S16: For all its success, the Diana album only briefly postponed the Shiek production team’s time in the wilderness. They entered a long fallow period where they tried a little of everything and none of it stuck. Know.
S1: The lady love, the Edwards and Rodgers offered their services in 1981 to crooner legend Johnny Mathis, but after recording an entire album, the jazz inflected I Love My Lady, the LP was shelved by Columbia Records in favor of a Mathes Greatest Hits album. Tracks from the I Love My Lady project would not surface until the 2010s.
S19: And then there was this misfire by the guy back by.
S1: The first solo album by Blondie singer Debbie Harry called Coocoo, should, in theory have been a smash. It was the follow up to a chart topping string of Blondie hits produced and co-written by the chic duo whose music had inspired their hit Rapture. Harry’s album was a cutting edge fusion of funk, rock and dance music, maybe to cutting edge songs like Backfired, written by Rodgers and Edwards didn’t connect on pop or rock radio and Cuckoo’s Freekeh album cover, an image by sci fi and horror artist H.R. Gieger, depicting Debbie Harry’s face with swords piercing her cheeks, couldn’t have helped. Coocoo peaked at number 25 on the album chart, generated no top 40 hits and was off the chart in just three months.
S3: Save this for Rodgers and Edwards. They would try anything. The producers of the 1982 film Soup for One, a sex comedy set in New York, invited the Chic duo to record the entire soundtrack.
S1: And once again, the material was all current early 80s dance pop. The title track to Super for one, performed by Chic was even an R and B hit, peaking at number 14 on the soul chart. The soundtrack also gave Rodgers and Edwards a chance to work with singer songwriter Carly Simon, they wrote and produced Simon’s most left field avant garde single ever, the tropical funk track y.
S4: But when the raunchy, poorly reviewed movie flopped at the box office, so did Chics Soup for one soundtrack.
S3: It peaked at number 168 on the album chart. Even when the Shiek organization did score a hit, it didn’t make much of an impact on the American charts.
S1: French singer Shela of the disco group Shela and B Devotion took the Rodgers Edwards track spacer into the top 10 across Europe, but it barely scraped the US club chart. Perhaps Europe and the U.K. would, in fact, be the key to Chics comeback because through no involvement by Nile Rodgers or Bernard Edwards, a new wave of pop in Britain especially sounded a whole lot like the.
S5: Duran Duran co-founders Nick Rhodes and John Taylor conceived of their post punk meets new romantic band as a hybrid of, quote, the Sex Pistols and Chic. John Taylor’s frenetic baselines, in particular, strongly echo the work of Bernard Edwards and Andy Taylor’s lead guitar lines adopted Nile Rodgers percussive disco style.
S1: Thanks to the 1981 launch of MTV in America, New Wave bands like Duran Duran and the equally chic indebted ABC.
S5: Suddenly began cropping up on the American charts.
S1: In short, the sound of chic, if not chic themselves, was becoming cool again without them doing anything at all.
S3: And what were they doing, Nile Rodgers at least, was attempting a solo album, a Bleeding Edge Funk and WORLDBEAT LP called Adventures in the Land of the Good Groove.
S1: It won a smattering of good notices, but it wasn’t going to return Rodgers to the charts. William. But for us tonight in his autobiography, Rogers said he felt like a failure circa 1983, his 70s successes meant he didn’t need to work, but everything he’d done since the Diana album had been varieties of flop chics, recent string of low charting LP’s and the Johnny Mathis, Debbie Harry and Soup for One projects to numb himself.
S3: Niall was indulging heavily in cocaine and alcohol. He needed a rescue both spiritually and professionally. Perhaps then it makes sense that the person who rescued Niall would be and other worldly being a star man, if you will.
S20: David Bowie and Nile Rodgers met at a New York club in 1982 and quickly took a shine to each other.
S5: Bowie recognized Rodgers as a seeker and a restless spirit with immense talent. He invited Niall to write and record with him in Montrose, Switzerland, and as usual, for the chameleonic Bowie. He was looking for a shake up in his sound. He was out of contract at his former label RCA Records and free to do what he wanted. Oddly enough, for Bowie, Freedom didn’t mean another avant garde project like his trilogy of late 70s Berlin albums. David told Niall in Switzerland he wanted hits. He wanted to write and record the biggest hits of his career.
S3: I’ll let Nile Rodgers himself tell the story from this 2016 interview live at a Google event.
S21: So when when we were doing the album Let’s Dance. He says, No, darling, I just wrote this last night. I think this could be a hit goes something like this. And I went to me, this sounded like a folk song, not a bad one, but I just sing like that and he was singing that and that. So I thought he was trying to see if I was just some, like, sycophant, this wacky dude who wanted a paycheck or something. So I said to him, hey, David, can I do an arrangement anywhere? Sure. I was like, whoa, awesome.
S22: So I wrote out some charts and I changed my guitar part from just up a half step to I was like going, man, this is cool.
S21: And then I inverted the whole thing up an octave, I went and he was like, Wow, that’s my song. I went, Yeah. Now check this out.
S22: Do do do do do do do do do do.
S21: It was very much like let’s dance that, you know. And I remember asking him, David, do you think I made this too funky? And he said the coolest thing I have ever heard in my life. He looked at me and said, No, darling, is there such a thing? I was like, you, you are the man.
S16: In short, Nijole helped David shape his song into a hit, and David gave Niall back his confidence and the finished song and title track from Bowie’s forthcoming album.
S5: It did more than all right.
S10: Put on your red shoes that.
S5: Back to the song play on the radio in the summer of 1983, Let’s Dance became David Bowie’s first hot 100 number one hit in nearly eight years.
S1: Since his 1975 chart topper theme, it kicked off the biggest pop star moment of Bowie’s career. It even helped launch the career of a killer guitarist who took the song’s searing solo. A young Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Let’s Dance album tested Nile Rodgers skills as a producer and arranger. Bowie would bring him songs from the album, including an oddball track from a 1977 LP. Bowie wrote with and for his friend Iggy Pop called China Girl.
S5: Nile Rodgers reimagined the song from top to bottom, layering in an interpolation of the stereotypical Oriental riff and turning China girl from proto punk into pop, it, too was a hit, peaking at number 10 films like.
S1: No David Bowie album had ever generated three hits in America.
S5: Let’s Dance broke that streak when Modern Love produced by Nile Rodgers as debonair jet setting dance rock reached number 14 on the Hot 100. Let’s dance LPI peaked at number four on the album chart, Bowie’s highest charting album since 1976. Station to station, and it was his first to go platinum in America. It was not only the most commercial, most danceable music Bowie had ever released.
S1: It also represented a new permutation of Nile Rodgers, moving him finally out from behind his chic success and making him the leading producer of a novel brand of danceable new wave rock music.
S3: At a moment when that sound was sweeping MTV and Top 40 radio. Suddenly, by late 1983 and 84, Nile Rodgers became Pop’s most in demand producer. He took full advantage of this new profile to produce an array of acts from the U.S., the U.K., even Australia.
S10: And I’m not gonna get about 50 Aussie band in excess.
S5: Were preparing their album, The Swing in the fall of 83 when they invited Nile Rodgers to produce a track for them. Original Sin was a cutting edge dance rock single featuring Niall’s signature Rithy guitars. Rodgers encouraged the band to make the lyrics about an interracial couple with the refrain Dream on, white boy, dream on Black Girl. Inspired by Niall’s raising in a multiracial family, though the song was only a minor pop hit, it was a big club hit and it’s set up in excess for their American breakthrough in the second half of the 80s. As a finishing touch, Nihil invited American singer Daryl Hall to harmonize with an excess singer, Michael Hutchence, on the song’s Chorus Line. And wake up to.
S1: And why was Nile Rodgers friendly with Daryl Hall around the same time Nile was producing a remix of Daryl Hall and John Oates early 1984 Single Adult Education, Rogers pumped up the Hall and Oates track, adding handclapping, rhythms and tribal chants to make it more infectious.
S5: When the in excess single hit the clubs, it caught the attention of the premier band of MTV fueled 80s dance rock, the group that had wanted to sound like chic in the first place.
S1: Duran Duran.
S5: The Fab Five, as Duran Duran were now dubbed, were busy promoting their smash late 1983 studio album Seven and The Ragged Tiger, it led off with the very chic esque number three hit Union of the Snake.
S3: By the time they got wind of Roger’s work with David Bowie and in excess, Duran Duran were already promoting the album’s second single. The number 10 hit New Moon on Monday, and they needed a follow up.
S5: One of the catchiest songs on Seven in the Ragged Tiger, the album’s leadoff track, The Reflex, had potential, but it sounded like an album cut. It had a good melodic riff, but it rode it into the ground and it wasn’t dynamic enough to make it on the radio. So Duran Duran hired Nile Rodgers not to produce, but as with the Hall and Oates single to rethink the Reflex. Thanks for Niall’s remix kept the best elements of the track, but he rebuilt the reflex to sound like it could be playing in a packed nightclub or as in the song’s music video, a packed arena. Duran Duran label fear that Rogers had made the song sound, quote, too black. And at first they balked at releasing it, signed by the band, overruled the label, and they were right to trust Nile Rodgers. The reflex powered by its remix became Duran Duran first ever U.S. number one hit, reaching the top of the Hot 100 in June 1984.
S3: Then almost immediately, the band gave Rogers another assignment, producing a brand new track, which would be a bonus studio cut on their forthcoming live album, Arena.
S1: It would have the tribal drums of Nilles remix for Hall and Oates, plus chiming sounds descended from his work in Shiek. They called it The Wild Boys.
S5: While all this Duran Duran activity was going on, Rogers met and began working with another rising pop star whom, like David Bowie, he’d first met at a New York nightclub.
S3: But unlike Bowie, at that time, she was largely unknown. Rogers was impressed with the young woman’s drive, but at first even he figured she’d only be a hit in dance clubs in Queen.
S4: It was easy to underestimate Madonna. In 1983, her self-titled debut album was eight tracks of freestyle and electro dance music, like the number 16 hit holiday. And many critics dissed Madonna’s thin, often high pitched voice. But the songs were packed with hooks. Sire Records, her label expected great things from Madonna that she would be much more than a club act.
S3: They had even identified a song that might work for her, but it was rather quirky.
S1: The songwriting duo of Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly wrote hits for a variety of clients, but even they weren’t quite sure what to do with like a Virgin. This demo features Tom Kelly singing in falsetto. A Warner executive thought that Madonna might like it, and she did. She proposed that it should be the title track from her next album and that Nile Rodgers, whom she’d met the prior year after a live club appearance, should produce it. So Sih approached Nile to produce Madonna’s forthcoming second album, More Confident. After his David Bowie triumph, Rodgers negotiated a lopsided deal that gave him a bigger share of the LP than a producer normally earns. He later said the Like a Virgin album was the most lucrative LP he ever worked on. Siah agreed to his terms, and in early 1984, Nile began work with Madonna.
S3: Her instincts about him proved right.
S4: He knew what to do with that quirky song. Natsumi Nial brought in both of his instrumental peers from Chic, bassist Bernard Edwards and drummer Tony Thompson to play on the Like a Virgin album. He had convinced Madonna that even though she was primarily thought of as a dance artist, one likelier to sing over synth melodies and programmed beats. Live instruments would bring the songs to life. He also coached her on how to sing both like a Virgin and Material Girl to songs that were in a key outside of her natural range between Niall’s technical skill and Madonna’s legendary work ethic. They finally nailed the vocals made. By the way, a quick aside, not only was Rogers instrumental in Madonna’s vocal performance, he was dead on about bringing in his old band mates, especially drummer Tony Thompson, the drums on Like a Virgin or I would argue, the album’s most underrated element. Seriously, even if you’ve heard Material Girl a bazillion times, listen to it again with fresh ears. Tony Thompson’s backbeat and drum fills are monstrous.
S1: Like a Virgin album was largely complete by the start of summer 1984, but there was a problem, a good problem to have the Madonna album, her debut was still generating hits.
S4: Borderline took several months to climb the charts, and by early summer 84, it was a top 10 hit. Madonna’s first Sire Records approached Nile Rodgers, telling him the first album was doing better than expected and asking him what they should do.
S3: Rodgers advised them to hold the new album that he just produced and keep promoting singles from the first one. The Gambit worked.
S4: Lucky Star reached number four on the Hot 100 by the early fall of 84, setting up the second album, Perfect Sondheim. Of course, by the time Lucky Star peaked, Madonna herself had provided the best possible album preview with this televised showcase. Madonna’s fabled performance on MTV’s first ever Video Music Awards in 1984 ensured that like a Virgin would be a smash, both the Nile Rodgers produced album and the singer. Done it by December 1984, the song had topped the Hot 100, Madonna’s first ever number one. By February 1985, the album was also number one. Both of these chart toppers cemented Nile Rodgers status. Remarkably, the Like a Virgin album was the first number one LP of his career. No Shiek album had gone that high, nor had the Diana or Let’s Dance LP’s and the single was his fifth hot 100 No. One as a producer.
S3: Following his two Shiek chart toppers, Diana Ross is upside down and David Bowie’s Let’s Dance If You Count his remix work on Duran Duran The Reflex, it was his sixth and crucially, from upside down to like a Virgin Nile. Rodgers had scored the bulk of his number ones after the Disco Sucks movement had killed Chics commercial prospects, which, by the way, was ongoing. Shiek were still in a slump as late as 1983.
S1: Rodgers and Bernard Edwards were still issuing albums and singles, but none of them did well on the charts, even as they tried to modernize the chic sound tracks like Give Me the Luvin would miss the Hot 100 entirely and peter out in the lower half of the Orange Beach.
S16: This strain, the relationship between Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, Nile brought in his friend to play bass on both the David Bowie and Madonna albums, but their interactions were more chilly and businesslike. Nile shifted his attention fully toward his behind the boards career, producing and playing for a slew of different acts as varied as Mick Jagger on his first solo album, 1985.
S5: She’s the boss, Mary Jo.
S4: Peter Gabriel with a song that was on No Kidding, the Gremlins soundtrack.
S1: And the Thompson twins, whose next album was foundering after its lead single, Lay Your Hands On Me, missed the U.S. charts in late 1984, Arista executive Clive Davis hired Nile Rodgers to save the Thompson Twins project.
S5: And in 1985, Nile remixed the hit and turned the Thompson twins. Here’s to Future Day’s album into a success.
S3: Even one of Nilles old clients was benefiting from his newfound clout, Sister Sledge mounted a comeback in England in 1984 when a reissue of their single Thinking of You, originally from their 1979 We Are Family album, reached number 11 on the U.K. chart, striking while the iron was hot. Sister Sledge went back into the studio with Nile Rodgers in 1985 and produced a new album which spawned Sister Sledge’s first and only UK number one hit.
S1: Frankie Go and get the. The comeback of Sister Sledge was a throwback to the peak chic era when Rogers and Bernard Edwards were still a joint chart colossus. But by 1985, Bernard Edwards was finally making his own mark as a solo producer, and he did it just as one Nile Rodgers client was splintering apart.
S5: Some like it hot and some sweat with the edges of the power station was a Duran Duran spinoff group. It comprised the band’s guitarist, Andy Taylor, its bassist John Taylor, journeyman’s singer Robert Palmer, and Shiekh drummer Tony Thompson. The two tailers formed the group in a bid to produce more rock leaning tracks than Duran Duran, named for a famed New York City recording studio. The power station tapped Bernard Edwards to produce their self-titled 1985 debut album, which eventually went platinum and spawned the instant number six hit. Some like it hot. Are you?
S1: Edwards did so well, producing the power station side project that soon he was tapped to work on the main event, Duran Duran, who had been tapped by the producers of the James Bond movie franchise to record the title track from 1985.
S23: Roger Moore film A View to a Kill.
S5: Bernard Edwards co-produced the theme with long time James Bond score composer John Barry. When a view to a Kill the song topped the Hot 100 in July 1985, it not only became Duran Duran second ever U.S. number one hit, it also gave each Shiek founder credit on a Duran Duran chart topper. The Edwards produced Bond theme hit the top just over a year after Nile Rodgers remix of The Reflex is.
S1: At one point in the summer of eighty five hits by both Duran Duran and the power station were going head to head on the charts and both of them were produced by Bernard Edwards. A view to a kill and the power stations cover of T. Rex is classic. Get it on bang, a gong which reached number nine.
S5: Then when power station singer Robert Palmer decided to skip touring with the project and focus instead on his next solo album, he tapped Bernard Edwards to produce it.
S3: That album, Riptide, went double platinum, the biggest seller of Robert Palmer’s career.
S5: And in the spring of 1986, it generated Palmer’s only hot 100 number one hit the Edwards produced addicted to. For the second half of the 1980s, even if they weren’t competing directly with each other, Bernard Edwards was evening the score with his former partner, Nile Rodgers.
S3: Both of them were chart titans, each producing a string of hits for a wide range of artists early in 1986. Edwards produced a song on the gold soundtrack to the movie Pretty in Pink for British New Wave rocker eyes some.
S1: Edwards also produced a top five hit in 1987 for the dance pop duo ABC with their soul revival smash When Smokey Sings. He produced a track for Jody Watley solo debut album, The Top 10 hit. Don’t You Want Me?
S5: Don’t you love me?
S1: And Edwards produced the lead off hit from Out of Order veteran Rod Stewart’s 1988 chart comeback album, The Rocker Lost in You. Meanwhile, Nile Rodgers reconvened in 1986 with Duran Duran producing their platinum comeback album, Notorious, its title track was a number two hit.
S24: Well, keep the secret to the boys, no.
S1: And though Nile didn’t produce it, he played rhythm guitar and appeared in the video for Steve Wynn Woods, RMV flavored 1986 number one smash Hire Love.
S4: Perhaps Nile Rogers most unexpected success of the late 80s was the 1989 Bee 50 two’s album Cosmic Thing.
S3: We talked about this improbable smash in our twenty eighteen hit parade episode about the bands from Athens, Georgia, The Bee, 50 twos and RTM. Suffice it to say, no one involved with cosmic thing expected it to be the multi platinum blockbuster it became that included its two producers, who each took on about half of the B 52 s album was not was. Bassist and co-founder Don was produced four of the album’s tracks, including the funk flavored party track Love Show.
S4: And Nile Rodgers produced the albums, other six tracks, including two of its later hits, Rodgers harkened back to his psychedelic hippie past with the groovy globe trotting room, a number three hit. And he held the B 52 elegiac follow up single Dead Beat Club, a number 30 hit with it. Go to the.
S5: By 1990, Niall’s credibility in the guitar world was strong enough that he produced the first and only album by brothers and ace guitarists Jimmy and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
S3: Remember, Stevie Ray had worked with Rodgers in 1983 on David Bowie’s Let’s Dance album.
S4: The Vaughn Brothers album Family Style, produced by Rodgers, turned out to be Stevie Ray’s swan song. It was released in September 1990, just weeks after Stevie Ray Vaughan died in a helicopter crash on the.
S3: By the turn of the 90s, both Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards had each achieved enough success that they felt ready to reunite Shiek. They revived the band in 1992 with an array of different players.
S1: Drummer Tony Thompson was busy working on other projects and unavailable, but vocalist Fonzi Thornton did return the 92 album Shiek ISM wasn’t a big seller, but it did generate two big club hits the self-referential Chic Mystique, which modernized their vintage disco sound and mystique and Your Love, which blended the chic sound with the deep base of Niños House Music.
S3: The mid 90s was a time of rebuilding in general, especially for Nile Rodgers, having spent the last decade and a half abusing both alcohol and cocaine, and after several near-death experiences, including a hospital visit where his heart had stopped multiple times, Nijole finally got sober in 1994 and remains in recovery. To this day, Edwards, too, had burned the candle at both ends since Chics success. Although Rogers claims he did a better job of hiding his addiction. In April 1996, Nile Rodgers was invited to Tokyo to accept a Super Producer of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award, and he was invited to perform at the legendary Budokan Arena. Nile brought along the members of Chic to Tokyo, including Bernard Edwards, to share the spotlight with him. But on the night of the performance, Edwards was feeling gravely ill, despite Roger’s insistence that they postponed the Tokyo gig. Edwards insisted that the show go on as planned that night at the Budokan, even in his weakened condition.
S1: Edwards played many of his legendary Shiek baselines to a roaring crowd.
S5: After the show, Edwards returned to their hotel, telling Rogers he just needed to rest.
S3: It was the last time they spoke. Bernard Edwards was found dead the following morning. The autopsy determined he had died of pneumonia. Edwards was 43 years old. Nile Rodgers was devastated at the loss of his longtime friend and Shiek collaborator, it would not be the last time he lost a musical pier in 2003. Drummer Tony Thompson succumbed to renal cancer just three days before his forty ninth birthday. Niall himself endured a 2010 diagnosis of prostate cancer. But amazingly, more than a decade after that diagnosis, he remains both alive and sober.
S1: And it’s a good thing Rogers lived to see the last quarter century since Bernard Edwards passing. It has not been a quiet 25 years for Nial or his Shiek legacy.
S5: Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards scored two more number one hot 100 hits in the late 90s without doing a thing. A pair of hip hop chart toppers sampled two classic chic productions and took them to the top of the bridge a few months.
S10: To me, sometimes too much, too much.
S1: In the summer of 1997, mo money mo problems. The Puff Daddy produced posthumous hit for the notorious B.i.g. Road, a sample of the Diana Ross smash. I’m coming out to the top of the charts.
S8: And just six months later, in early 1998 by Academical, which to me was Dancing with the Stars of music.
S5: It’s a God like people just fighting for the love. I don’t like it. Will Smith took a sample of the sheep produced Sister Sledge Smash. He’s the greatest dancer and transformed it into his number one smash.
S24: Get jiggy with it.
S1: If he did it for his part, Nile Rodgers remained active as a player and producer, he collaborated with Duran Duran again on their 2004 album Astronaut and its club hit Reach Up for the Sunrise. And in 2012, Nijole received featured billing on the Adam Lambert track Qadi. Come on. While these samples and credits for Rogers were rolling out something subtler but more significant was happening in 21st century pop, the chic sound was flowing through a new wave of electronic dance music. And the torch was carried most firmly by French EDM duo Daft Punk Rock. Matthew. Al Qaeda training camps. After building an ever larger audience through the 90s and aughts for their robotic throwback future funk, Daft Punk finally decided to record a full album with Turn of the 80s technology. And they invited Nile Rodgers to take part in what would become their biggest album.
S11: There’s no.
S1: Came back to the U.S. when the LP Random Access Memories arrived in the spring of 2013, Nile Rodgers syncopated guitar lines were audible right from the opening track, Give Life Back to Music. Daft Punk’s album intended to do just that, and it fulfilled its mission on its monster hit single. But to get lucky was written, performed and credited to Daft Punk, featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers, it shot up the charts, reaching number two on the Hot 100 in the summer of 2013. It gave Nile Rodgers his biggest hit in decades and it swept the critics prizes as the Song of the year.
S25: Thanks again.
S3: But thanks again, lucky phone like to get lucky, the critics weren’t the only ones impressed, both random access Memories and Get Lucky were nominated for top prizes at the 2014 Grammy Awards that night at the Staples Center, Daft Punk, Pharrell, Nile Rodgers and special guest Stevie Wonder performed a medley of Get Lucky and Wonder’s classic Another Star.
S5: At one point in the middle of the song, they broke out into a few bars of Chics biggest hit left freak on. Then, in an upset, the Daft Punk album and single swept the night’s top two Prises album of the year and record of the year Nile Rodgers shared in these awards. Even more amazingly, these prizes, including a third Grammy for pop group performance, were Rodgers only recording Academy Prizes ever backstage.
S14: The 61 year old winner of his first ever Grammys was stunningly expected to walk home with all these Grammys is weird because in my long career of making records, I probably have had, I don’t know, 10, 12 records win Grammys that the producer did or the writer didn’t win the Grammy in that category. So this is shocking to me. I’m really blown away.
S3: If the recording academy was a bit late honoring Nile Rodgers, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was even more delinquent and.
S1: When she first LP turned 25 years old in 2002, the band became eligible for Rock Hall induction, the nominating committee put them on the ballot right away. She were nominated for the Rock Hall’s class of 2003. Not too surprisingly, the voters didn’t put them in that year. Few bands get into the hall on their first try, but that was just the start of chics frustration. Take over the next dozen years, Shiek were nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 10 more times. Their 11 nominations remains a record for the most ballot appearances. Without induction, the term the Susan Lucci of the Rock Hall has been applied to many artists who waited years to get inducted, especially Chic. But please note, perennial daytime Emmy nominee Susan Lucci did eventually win her Emmy Shiek are still not in the rock hall. Adding insult to injury. Practically every year they were on the ballot. Other acts she was associated with were swept in ahead of them. These include Blondie, who deservedly got in with the Rock Hall’s class of 2006 while Shiek were passed over. In 2007, Grandmaster Flash made history as the first hip hop act to be inducted while Shiek, the band that Flash loved to slice up on his turntables, went down a third time. In 2008, Madonna, on her very first ballot, got inducted while her producer, Nile Rodgers, did not. In 2009, guitar wizard Jeff Beck got into the hall. Did I mention Nile Rodgers produced him to. In 2013, Chics Disco Pier Donna Summer on her fifth try and tragically the year after her death was finally deservedly inducted. A year after that, in 2014, Daryl Hall and John Oates finally took the podium to accept induction, Chic went unfulfilled for the eighth time in. The next year, 2015, Shiek were blanked a ninth time while Nile Rogers, late friend Stevie Ray Vaughan was belatedly inducted on. In all of these years, the RockHall nominating committee stubbornly but rightly kept putting Shiek on the ballot, the voters made up largely of veteran rockers who didn’t get the memo that disco and dance music are part of rock and roll, just kept ignoring that box. This makes Chic officially the most snubbed act in Rock Hall history. Their 11 nominations beat the prior record by Solomon Burke, who got in on his 10th ballot. By the way, your hit parade host became a rock hall voter in twenty sixteen and I got to vote for Shiek once for all the good that that did in twenty seventeen. When Shiek were snubbed that 11th time, the Rock Hall organizers finally waved a white flag. They announced that Nile Rodgers by himself would be inducted into the hall for his production work under the banner of musical excellence, a category the hall organizers can use by fiat without a full membership vote. That night at the induction ceremony at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, the surviving co-founder of Chic was genuinely touched, but he couldn’t help alluding to the irony.
S26: It’s funny, I was saying to Pharaoh almost everybody on this stage, as a matter of fact, almost everybody who’s been in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, who’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame I’ve worked with. This this award, which is amazing to me, is really because of all the people that have allowed me to come into their lives and just join their band, be it Mick Jagger, be it Madonna Beard, Bowie Beard, to be 50, to be in excess beard, Daft Punk beard, Pharrell Williams beard, Diana Ross Beard, Sister Sledge.
S27: I mean, just goes on and on and on. And I got to tell you, thank you. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
S3: As for the legacy of Shiek, well, you’ve probably heard their sound on the radio just in the last year, a wave of nouveau disco pop dominated the charts in 2020, including new hits by dodgy cat Lady Gaga and most especially British singer Dua LIPA, whose number two smash Don’t Start Now is a loving, faithful recreation of the peak chic sound.
S1: Don’t show up, don’t come up, don’t stop caring about me. Know what I like to think? That the world needed chic in twenty twenty between the pandemic and our divisive politics.
S3: It was a rough year, even rougher than 1979, the year Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards kept America’s spirits aloft by insisting that these were the good times.
S5: Bernard Edwards spent his final night on Earth in 1996, playing his most immortal bass line at the Budokan in Tokyo. And however long we still have Niall Rodgers with us. I know he’ll keep scratching out a rhythm on his guitar while his feet keep dancing. I hope you enjoyed this episode of Hit Parade. Our show was written, edited and narrated by Chris Melaniphy. That’s me. My producer is Ushe Solution Special thanks to dance music scholar Christian John Wiki for research assistants. June Thomas is the senior managing producer, and Gabriel Roth, the editorial director of Slate podcasts. Check out their roster of shows at Slate dot com slash podcasts. You can subscribe to Hit Parade wherever you get your podcasts. In addition to finding it in the Slate culture feat. If you’re subscribing on Apple podcasts, please rate and review us while you’re there. It helps other listeners find the show. Thanks for listening and I look forward to leading the hit parade back your way. Until then, keep on marching on one. I’m Chris Malathy.