Kicking It With Music Legend Nile Rodgers
Two years ago, I heard Nile Rodgers on the radio talking about his book “Le Freak,” which is the crazy story of his life as a kid in the city, a musician, a writer, and a producer. I could not believe one man had written so many songs that I loved and grew up with.
Nile Rodgers has been a staple in the music industry since his days as a band member in Chic that ruled the disco era and time as a writer/producer for Sister Sledge and Diana Ross. After the “Disco Sucks” movement brought an end to disco, Rodgers kept the dance music movement going. Although not technically considered “Disco” anymore, to this day, the influence of Nile Rodgers and disco can be easily heard in many dance music tracks.
When I found out Redbull was having Nile Rodgers for their Classic Album Sundays series, I bought a ticket immediately. The event focused on his work with David Bowie, creating the Let’s Dance album at a time when Bowie was desperate for a hit and Rodgers was looking for a comeback from five flops.
As we sat in the Sky Room of the New Museum, the sun was setting over the city; a perfect atmosphere to listen to the legend’s story. Rodgers began telling us about the fateful night he met Bowie after seeing him sitting alone in the corner of a New York nightclub, sipping on orange juice.
Rodgers walked over to Bowie, sat on the stool next to him and just started talking. They had a heavy conversation about all the different kinds of music with which they grew up and inspired them. After talking for hours, Rodgers didn’t even remember giving Bowie his number, but he must have and thankfully so.
It was exhilarating enough to be in a room with one of the best rhythm guitarists of our time (who is also behind so many songs and artists I love, am inspired by, and grew up with), but hearing him talk of the momentous night that led the pair to record Let’s Dance was on the next level. As he told us stories, played his guitar, and joked about going on tangents, the audience knew we were a part of something really special: an all access pass into the mind of a musical genius, and a writing and recording session with another, Bowie.
Rodgers discussed each song. He had everything planned out, and if Bowie didn’t want to do one, he rethought how to propose the idea to Bowie in a way that would make him change his mind. He had a vision for this album and, with his longtime production partner Bernard Edwards, their team of musicians, and newcomer brought on by Bowie, Stevie Ray Vaughn, magic happened.
I felt like I was in the midst of that magic during the listening portion of the event. On a killer sound system, we all sat with Nile Rodgers in the crowd behind us and listened to Let’s Dance in full. Although I couldn’t see Rodgers, I could only imagine how beautiful it must be to see the reactions of mega-fans to the album he created in such a short period of time during the early 80s.
When the music stopped playing, he joked about how he hasn’t heard the album in full since it came out, but how great it was to hear it again. He said that as he listened, even more memories resurfaced about each session and the birth of each song. He walked back up to the stage after the album ended accompanied by a sea of applause and participated in a Q&A session. Afterwards, he graciously signed copies of his book and albums, as well as took pictures with fans and answering even more questions for people one-on-one.
Nile Rodgers is one of my music heroes and inspirations. He has never stopped collaborating or making and producing incredible music. Most recently, he can be heard of Daft Punk’s new single “Get Lucky” that also features Pharrell. Rodgers is a gift to music and our time. This down to earth, funny, brilliant man has set the bar pretty high for songwriters and producers not only today, but also for future generation. His knowledge of music, music history, and how to create something absolutely new that breathes life into the world are qualities to cherish. His work will live on forever in the music industry, whether through his tracks being played for years to come, or through the future tracks inspired by his work.
Make sure to follow Nile Rodgers and his work through his website here, and check out some of his music below. Also check out more Redbull Music Academy events here. You can keep up with me, what I am listening to, and my adventures running between NYC and Philly in pursuit of seeing and dancing to the best music on my blog mylifeinsound here.
Editorial by Cheryl Dunn
Photos by Mr.X of Elite Daily.