Bowie, Madonna, Daft Punk... prepare for Sandance with our beginners' guide to a music legend
To celebrate the mighty Nile Rodgers’ arrival in Dubai, we’ve rounded up the legendary guitarist, producer and all round musical mastermind’s finest moments – from Madonna to Bowie, forward to Daft Punk and way back to his disco hitmakers, Chic. What’s more, you can expect to hear nearly all of these stone cold classics live when Rodgers leads Chic to the Sandance stage on November 15. He’s on early at the sundown slot from 5.45pm, so make sure you’re on the beach early, and grab your tickets now from www.timeouttickets.com.
1. Chic – Everybody Dance (1978)
Sure, everyone knows multi-million selling ‘Le Freak’ – which shifted more than seven million records, making it Atlantic’s best-selling single ever – but the groove is easily matched by the band’s goodtime, floor-filling second single. It’s opened nearly every Chic setlist since the band was reassembled by Rodgers in 2008, so we’re expecting to hear it loud and proud on the sand.
Rodgers and Chic sidekick Bernard Edwards’ first major production project was taking this innocent church sister act and creating something with sass (and funk). The debut album spawned three huge hits – ‘Lost in Music’, ‘He’s the Greatest Dancer’, and this title track, which is clearly dear to Rodgers’ heart. In a recent interview he said he’d like this one played at his funeral, and when asked how he’d like to be remembered answered ‘as the guy who co-wrote We Are Family’.
3. The Sugar Hill Gang – Rapper's Delight (1979)
Generally considered to be first tune to introduce rap to the mainstream music charts, The Sugar Hill Gang’s ode to the ‘hip-hop, the hippie the hippie, to the hip hip-hop’ was built on a sample of the unmistakable groove to Chic’s ‘Good Times’. Yes, it’s true Rodgers wasn’t best pleased the first time he heard it, later successfully suing for royalties that set a precedent for the use of sampling today, but there’s no denying the importance of his Edwards’ funky hook to this tune, and therefore the evolution of America’s newest artform. Expect to hear the original at Sandance, with references to the gang it inspired.
4. Diana Ross – I'm Coming Out (1980)
An ever-so-slightly lost Diana Ross called on Rodgers and Edwards to overhaul and update her sound for 1980 comeback album, Diana. As well as this gem, the LP also spawned the incredible ‘Upside Down’. A clear career high from both parties, you can expect to hear both songs in a Chic-ed up medley at Sandance.
5. David Bowie – Let's Dance (1983)
Perhaps the most poignant moment in Nile Rodgers’ autobiography – aside, that is, from the deprivations of his ‘bohemian’ upbringing, and the deaths of his father and step father – is the moment where, after a fruitful and artistic conversation about the album they might make together, David Bowie abruptly says: ‘Nile, darling, I want you to make me hits’. While offended, Rodgers duly obliged: this is Bowie’s best-selling single, the title track from his best-selling album. These days Chic play this at every gig, so you can expect to hear this one, too.
6. Madonna – Like a Virgin (1984)
The album which saw Madonna grow up, moving from squawks of her patchy self-titled debut to begin the first in a string of her three classic albums, this title track perhaps showcases Rodgers’ gifts best. Here he retains the essence of Madge’s synthetic sound, but adds glimmers of real musicianship via his studio pros, bringing out a previously untapped organic element to her work and generally kickstarting the craze which made her the biggest female artist on the planet. Again, expect to hear this one live in Dubai.
7. INXS – Original Sin (1984)
Another one you can expect to hear in Chic’s setlists is this dark and groovy slab of ’80s funk-pop, which combines a dark vocal with stabs of horns and sly guitar work. Nile’s role on this single was a clear highlight of the Aussie band’s fourth LP, The Swing.
8. Duran Duran – Notorious (1984)
Adding a fresh layer of Chic-infused funk to their otherwise white sound, Rodgers’ helped guide the British rockers to a more groovy direction for their fourth record. He must still be proud of it today: this title track is amongst the most-played tunes on Chic’s setlists today.
9. Avicii – Lay Me Down
Proof that Rodgers was keeping his ears to the ground long before Daft Punk came a-knockin’ can be found in recent collaborations with electronic artists Chase & Status and Avicii, adding guitar to this track from the later’s hit LP Truth alongside vocalist Adam Lambert.
10. Daft Punk, Nile Rodgers, Pharrell Williams – Get Lucky (2013)
We’re sure you don’t need us to tell you to listen to ‘Get Lucky’, the undisputed musical moment of 2013, which has topped the charts in more than 30 countries and pretty much ruled the summer airwaves. The song’s success has far outshone each of its key components – Rodgers, Williams, or Daft Punk themselves – but with talk it may lead to more collaborations, with the French duo supposedly looking at unreleased Chic material, we hope there’s more to come. Significantly, expect to hear it as a fitting coda to Chic’s Sandance set.