Nile Rodgers Biography
Music Producer, Guitarist, Songwriter (1952–)
Nile Rodgers is a guitarist, songwriter and producer known for co-leading the band Chic as well as working with Madonna, Diana Ross and Daft Punk, among many others.
Born on September 19, 1952, in New York City, guitarist Nile Rodgers formed the group Chic with bassist Bernard Edwards, landing major hits during the disco era with “Le Freak,” “I Want Your Love” and “Good Times.” Rodgers also worked as a producer and arranger with the likes of Sister Sledge and Madonna, among many others. He returned to the scene in 2013 with Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.”
Nile Rodgers Jr. was born on September 19, 1952, in New York City, with both his father and uncle having musical inclinations. Becoming a phenomenal guitarist after bluffing his way into a band and focusing on his craft, Rodgers played at Harlem’s Apollo Theater and with the group New World Rising before teaming up with bassist Bernard Edwards in 1970.
Rodgers and Edwards explored genres and performed for a time as the Big Apple Band, which they renamed Chic in 1977 to avoid confusion with another group. Chic’s initial lineup included vocalists Alfa Anderson and Norma Jean Wright, as well as drummer Tony Thompson, a longtime colleague.
Chic’s Multiple Top 10s
Chic had its premier Top 10 hit with “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah),” which was first taken on by the Buddah label and then distributed by Atlantic Records. The group released its self-titled debut in 1977, with Luther Vandross helping out on background vocals and the album featuring another single, “Everybody Dance.” C’est Chic followed in 1978, featuring the No. 1, multi-platinum “Le Freak,” which made history for Atlantic as its top-selling single to date. The record also featured another Top 10 hit, the tender “I Want Your Love.” Chic’s third album, Risqué, offered the pop chart-topper “Good Times,” later sampled by the Sugarhill Gang for the song “Rapper’s Delight.”
Chic became one of dance music’s major acts. With Edwards’s highly distinctive bass sound and Rodgers’s trademark guitar licks, their songs and accompanying imagery fused glamour and dramatic flourishes with orchestral funk/soul. But with disco losing its popularity and the two having creative differences, Chic disbanded in 1983, after releasing three more studio albums.
Hits for Sister Sledge, Bowie and Madonna
Rodgers crafted anthemic dance songs for a number of artists outside of his band. He and Edwards were writers and producers for Sister Sledge’s classicWe Are Family (1979), featuring the title track and “He’s the Greatest Dancer,” both R&B chart-toppers. The duo also helmed Diana Ross’s 1980 album, Diana, featuring “Upside Down” and the celebratory “I’m Coming Out.”
On his own, Rodgers handled production for David Bowie’s Let’s Dance(1983) and the 1984 album from a certain provocateur who changed pop-music conversations forever with “Like a Virgin” and “Material Girl.” Rodgers also worked with the likes of Duran Duran, the B-52s, the Vaughan Brothers and Grace Jones. Additionally, he released the solo albums Adventures in the Land of the Good Grove (1983) and B-Movie Matinee (1985), performed/recorded with the group Outloud and later added soundtrack work to his repertoire.
A Daft Punk Return
Chic was re-established in 1992, with a new album Chic-ism released that same year. Rodgers and Edwards later performed in Japan in the spring of 1996, with Edwards passing away during the tour from pneumonia and Rodgers entering a period of mourning. Chic has since performed in a variety of iterations over the years.
Rodgers had struggled with severe drug and alcohol abuse for much of his life, but successfully completed rehab and remained sober for many years. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010, but was able to make a full recovery.
An inductee into the Dance Music Hall of Fame, Rodgers more recently worked with Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, also known as Daft Punk, becoming part of the duo’s 2013 No. 1 album, Random Access Memories; Rodgers served as co-writer and guitarist on “Give Life Back to Music,” “Lose Yourself to Dance” and the international smash “Get Lucky.” Additionally, Rodgers worked with vocalist Adam Lambert on “Lay Me Down” for Swedish producer Avicii’s album, True.
Rodgers released his memoir, Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny, in 2011.
Nile Rodgers. (2015). The biography.com website. Retrieved 04:09, Jun 27, 2015, from