The Playlist: Nile RodgersChic guitarist Nile Rodgers founded the most successful disco band of all time: here he reveals five songs that have changed his life.
He founded the most successful disco group of all time back in 1976. Chic’s compelling tunes, like “Le Freak,” ruled the charts as well as the dance floor of clubs like Studio 54. In the wake of Chic’s success, Rodgers became one of the most sought-after producers around, with stars like David Bowie, Madonna and more recently Daft Punk and Sam Smith keen to get Rodgers’ sound on their records.
Now the master himself is returning to the spotlight with the first Chic album in 23 years. Here, the 62-year-old reveals five songs that changed his life.
“When I was very young, my parents played a lot of music at home, mostly jazz. But the first song that really meant a lot to me was ‘Blue Suede Shoes.’ It was the first present that I ever remember getting in my life. My grandma gave me the single and a pair of blue suede shoes to go along with it. My family made me dance in front of everybody, which was funny. I pretended I was Elvis.”
“This song had a profound effect on me. I listened to it the first time I took LSD. I was quite young, 13 or 14, and I didn’t really know what LSD was. I took it and ‘The End’ kept playing over and over again in the background. It was awesome. It opened my eyes. After that experience, I switched from playing classical music to playing more jazz, R&B and rock ’n’ roll. It was a real seismic change in my life.”
“Listening to Miles Davis is like being on a trip—even though you’re completely sober. I’m serious! [Laughs.] His music has the same effect on your brain cells as LSD or mushrooms. This song in particular is just insane. It’s not jazz or avant-garde; it opens a new universe, a world of its own. And it’s still killing me like it used to in 1970. The title itself is so cool—it’s simply the best.”
“What a song! It represents another seismic shift in my life because it made me want to get into club music. I walked into a disco one night and the DJ segued from one song into the next. I had never heard that before. Before that, every song stopped, then another song would come in. But this guy kept the music playing. I was like: ‘Wow! I want to be part of this world where the music never stops.’ ”
“There isn’t a song in the world that is more clearly inspired by the Chic hit ‘Good Times’ than this. It went to No. 1 in America—despite disco music being pronounced dead by the radio DJs at the time, which hurt me a lot. It just showed me that the power of our sound could even overcome the power of hatred. A lot of people who said they hated disco probably bought this record, too.”