Nile Rodgers' Good Times

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0120180103

Disco legend Nile Rodgers talks about his life, his music and lots more.

Over four programmes in an intimate conversation with music aficionado Vicki Wickham, Nile Rodgers reveals his all-time favourite playlists: including his musical influences & inspirations, plus the songs that have made his career, as well as simply music that he loves.

The conversation takes place in Le Crib, Nile's home studio in Westport, Connecticut.

Programme 1: Nile reflects on his childhood in New York and his early musical influences.

Born to parents who were both heroin addicts and beatniks - times were hard, but music especially jazz played an important role in the family home. His mother gave birth to him when she was only 14 years old, and he was quite a weak child health-wise and had to attend a special hospital school. The upside of which was that from an early age he was educated with other children much older and he developed fast, becoming a prolific reader, and then turned his hand to music. He was shipped off to California to live with his paternal grandmother who hoped to save him from the beatnik life style of his parents; she sent him to Catholic school which he hated and he proudly set the record for playing truant in extraordinary ways. While learning classical clarinet and playing in the school orchestra, he also developed a fondness for cinema and roller skating. An amazing coincidence led him at age 15 to a party in the Hollywood Hills with Timothy Leary present, and Nile's first acid trip with accompanying hippy soundtrack! Despatched back to his mother's care in New York, he soon became a runaway and session musician in the clubs in Greenwich Village. This was where he first met Bernard Edwards and a friendship and music partnership began in the Big Apple Band, which would lead to the formation of the Chic Organization.

0220180110

Disco legend Nile Rodgers talks to music afficianado Vicki Wickham about his career.

Nile Rodgers talks in more detail about his musical partnership with Bernard Edwards. They met at a club in the Bronx called the Fairtree Lounge, and they hit it off straight away complimenting each other on guitar and bass. Bernard had a wonderful personality and was a great band leader, and could get you to do things you hadn't thought of and he persuaded Nile to switch from his big jazz guitar to a Fender Stratocaster - now known as the famous 'Hitmaker' that Nile still plays today.
Nile has had insomnia since he was a small child so he gets by on 2 or 3 hours a night and Bernard had a wife and kids and slept all the time; so Nile did the bulk of writing, and Bernard would do the editing. Nile would spend hours working on a lyric and a complicated jazz piece of music, and Bernard would come in and edit things - saying 'get rid of this and get rid of that, and just say Dance, Dance, Dance!' Luther Vandross then added the background vocals with 'Keep on Dancing' - and that became Chic's first hit 'Everybody Dance'. It got them a record deal - and Nile thought - I'm never going to write another song without this dude taking a look at it first!
Nile was a wacky hippy type with a 'green afro' and weird clothes, Bernard protected him from getting stick from other musicians when they were doing sessions. His crazy hairstyle probably got him the job playing for the Sesame Street Band. During the 70s they were supporting act for the Jackson Five and were on the tour bus with the Jacksons. Michael's father Joe was a strict disciplinarian and would shout at them, and Nile got very close to Michael as he was always a rebel and would do the opposite to what Joe was ordering.
Nile talks about the sudden death of his friend Bernard which happened while they were doing a television special in Japan. Nile was being honoured as producer of the year in 1996 and Chic played a series of concerts the final one was at the Budokan in Tokyo. Bernard had felt unwell at the start of the evening and a doctor was called and advised rest and to postpone the concert, but Bernard persuaded him that the show must go on and that he would rest straight after. The show was a great success and included special guests Sister Sledge, Slash and Steve Winwood. The following morning when Bernard failed to join everyone for breakfast Nile discovered that he had died during the night. He was only 43 years old and he and Nile had been musical partners for over 25 years. To honour Bernard's memory the re-constituted Chic Organization went back to Japan the following year and played a Tribute concert in his memory.
Nile also talks about the We Are Family Foundation he set up in the wake of 9/11 and its work with underprivileged children who want to pursue a music career.

0320180117

Disco legend Nile Rodgers in conversation with music aficionado Vicki Wickham.

At his home in conversation with Vicki Wickham, Nile Rodgers talks about writing for other artists and about Chic's most successful period from 1977 - 1979 when everything they touched went platinum, double and triple platinum. Atlantic Records - their record label wanted he & Bernard to write for other artists and offered them the Rolling Stones and Bette Midler. They said it would be better to work with a group who were fairly unknown, and so they were introduced to Sister Sledge and the rest as they say is history...although Nile admits they were winging it as they wrote the lyrics for We Are Family! They also didn't realise that lead singer Kathy Sledge was only 16 and on their first hit 'He's the Greatest Dancer' they were making her sing about having a one night stand. The Sledge Sisters asked Nile & Bernard to change the lyric but they insisted it was important for the song.
They then went on to work with Diana Ross - and the Diana album produced major hits with Upside Down, I'm Coming Out and My Old Piano. This was a wonderful pairing - and they started by interviewing her as if they were making a documentary - all about the life of Diana Ross. She loved that concept - and Nile finds it easy to write about something that is real. She was talking about turning the world upside. This was a New Diana album - hers and hers alone - 'instinctively you give to me - respectfully I say to thee..' only Diana could sing those lyrics like the Queen.
One night Nile went to a club to check out the latest music - and this was a transvestite club - and there were lots of guys dressed as Diana and that gave Nile the idea for one of her biggest hits on the Diana album - I'm Coming Out. There is a story of how he lied to Diana Ross about the meaning of the lyrics...
Nile talks about how he met David Bowie, rolling with Billy Idol one night, bumping into him at a nightclub called the Continental. Nile and Bowie hit it off straight away and the conversation turned to jazz - and they discovered they both shared a passion for this music. So they started working on album together - Nile was shocked because at the time nobody wanted to work with him because of the Disco Sucks Movement. But Bowie is his own man and a big rock star he's the man that everyone wants to work with. Together they started going around the City - to try and find a concept for his new album. Bowie told Nile he wanted him to do what he did best and make hits - he was offended for a moment because they had been talking about their jazz connections but Bowie pointed out if he did that best he'd be doing it. Nile had to agree he's made pop music his own. So Nile worked on the Let's Dance album which was mostly songs that were already done but Bowie wanted Nile to make them hits - China Girl, Cat People were already done - the only song they worked up together from Bowie's original folky type tune was Let's Dance - then Nile added the funk - all done in one take made like a Chic record. David loved it and it became one of his biggest hit singles.

0320180117

Disco legend Nile Rodgers in conversation with music aficionado Vicki Wickham.

Nile Rodgers reveals his all-time favourite playlists.

At his home in conversation with Vicki Wickham, Nile Rodgers talks about writing for other artists and about Chic's most successful period from 1977 - 1979 when everything they touched went platinum, double and triple platinum. Atlantic Records - their record label wanted he & Bernard to write for other artists and offered them the Rolling Stones and Bette Midler. They said it would be better to work with a group who were fairly unknown, and so they were introduced to Sister Sledge and the rest as they say is history...although Nile admits they were winging it as they wrote the lyrics for We Are Family! They also didn't realise that lead singer Kathy Sledge was only 16 and on their first hit 'He's the Greatest Dancer' they were making her sing about having a one night stand. The Sledge Sisters asked Nile & Bernard to change the lyric but they insisted it was important for the song.
They then went on to work with Diana Ross - and the Diana album produced major hits with Upside Down, I'm Coming Out and My Old Piano. This was a wonderful pairing - and they started by interviewing her as if they were making a documentary - all about the life of Diana Ross. She loved that concept - and Nile finds it easy to write about something that is real. She was talking about turning the world upside. This was a New Diana album - hers and hers alone - 'instinctively you give to me - respectfully I say to thee..' only Diana could sing those lyrics like the Queen.
One night Nile went to a club to check out the latest music - and this was a transvestite club - and there were lots of guys dressed as Diana and that gave Nile the idea for one of her biggest hits on the Diana album - I'm Coming Out. There is a story of how he lied to Diana Ross about the meaning of the lyrics...
Nile talks about how he met David Bowie, rolling with Billy Idol one night, bumping into him at a nightclub called the Continental. Nile and Bowie hit it off straight away and the conversation turned to jazz - and they discovered they both shared a passion for this music. So they started working on album together - Nile was shocked because at the time nobody wanted to work with him because of the Disco Sucks Movement. But Bowie is his own man and a big rock star he's the man that everyone wants to work with. Together they started going around the City - to try and find a concept for his new album. Bowie told Nile he wanted him to do what he did best and make hits - he was offended for a moment because they had been talking about their jazz connections but Bowie pointed out if he did that best he'd be doing it. Nile had to agree he's made pop music his own. So Nile worked on the Let's Dance album which was mostly songs that were already done but Bowie wanted Nile to make them hits - China Girl, Cat People were already done - the only song they worked up together from Bowie's original folky type tune was Let's Dance - then Nile added the funk - all done in one take made like a Chic record. David loved it and it became one of his biggest hit singles.

0420180124

Disco legend Nile Rodgers talks to Vicki Wickham about his life in music and lots more.

In the final programme of Nile Rodgers in conversation with music aficionado Vicki Wickham - we have a world exclusive - a brand new track that Nile has produced for Chic which will have its first play during this show. Also Nile talks about first encountering Madonna at a New York night club and how he wasn't sure about her act. He also reveals her ambition even then was to become the biggest star in the world and he offered his help, and worked on her Like a Virgin album which set her on her way to global domination.

He also talks about working with Beyonce as well as his collaborations with French dance duo Daft Punk which produced the massive hit classic Get Lucky. He reflects on his home in Westport and the importance of New York in his life. He continues to tour constantly with Chic as well as producing or playing his guitar on tracks for a whole litany of artists from Sting to Lady GaGa, and from Britney Spears to Sigala. The future for Mr Rodgers is always lost in music...