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The Chic Of Some People
En route to the Galway Arts Festival Chic’s Nile Rodgers talks about his friendship with Michael Jackson and David Bowie, working with Daft Punk and sharing the stage with The Smiths’ Johnny Marr.
Roisin Dwyer, 28 Jun 2012
The last time Hot Press spoke to Rodgers was in advance of the publication of his compelling biography Le Freak, a star-studded account of his disco years and time at the production helm for Madonna, David Bowie, Duran Duran, INXS and many others. If Rodgers was to be remembered for one project what would it be?
“That’s not fair!” he smiles. “I always sort of target David (the pair have worked on several projects but most famously Bowie’s Let’s Dance album) because he didn’t have a record deal at the time and neither did I, so we got together and it really was us against the world. It built a really strong bond. I have also had a long, long relationship with Duran Duran and I saw INXS the other day in Australia. There is just so much stuff in my life that there’s no way I could pick any one because frankly if it had not been for Diana Ross saving us after ‘Disco Sucks’ I don’t even know if I would have gotten the chance to do Bowie.”
Over the past few months Nile has had to deal with the passing of two of his close contemporaries, Donna Summer and Robin Gibb. Despite their moving in very similar artistic circles Rodgers never recorded with Summer, but has only warm memories of his friend.
“Donna and I appeared together once on a television special for VH1 and even though she and I were so close to each other and hung around with the same people, we never worked together. You’d think if any two artists should have come together it would have been Donna Summer and Chic! Instead we were with Diana Ross which on paper doesn’t seem to make nearly as much sense. Donna was lovely though. And Robin Gibb, he was such a nice guy, sadly the last time I spoke to him was on a television special we did about the death of Michael Jackson. Robin had a great sense of humour and was a wonderful person.”
Nile’s Big Apple Band supported the Jackson 5 on their American tour in 1973, which was the beginning of a lifelong friendship.
“My relationship with Michael was amazing,” he enthuses. “We met when he was a really young teenager. I was an ex-Black Panther and a bit of a rebel, and Michael just thought I was the coolest guy in the world because I was so anti-authority and his father was the ultimate authoritarian. I used to read hippy comic books to Michael but I would hide them inside normal commercial comic books. So his dad would see the cover and think I’m reading him some harmless book and meanwhile I’m reading The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers!”