Chic ( // SHEEK-'; currently Chic featuring Nile Rodgers) is an American band that was organized during 1976 by guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards. It is known best for its commercially successful disco songs, including "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)" (1977), "Everybody Dance" (1977), "Le Freak" (1978), "I Want Your Love" (1978), "Good Times" (1979), and "My Forbidden Lover" (1979). The group regarded themselves as a rock band for the disco movement "that made good on hippie peace, love and freedom". In October 2013, Chic was nominated for introduction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the eighth time.
1970-1978: Origins and early singers
Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards met during 1970, as fellow session musicians working in the New York City area. They formed a rock band named 'The Boys' and later 'The Big Apple Band,' playing numerous gigs around New York City. Despite interest in their demos, they never got a record contract. The original demo tapes were made by DJ/studio engineer Robert Drake, who first played lacquer records while DJing at a New York after hours club, Night Owl. The title of the first song recorded as Chic was "Everybody Dance," which was on their first album.
During 1977, Edwards and Rodgers recruited drummer Tony Thompson, formerly with LaBelle and Ecstasy, Passion, & Pain, to join the band; they performed as a trio doing cover versions at various gigs. Thompson recommended keyboardist Raymond Jones, 19, to join the band, as he had worked with him in the hit group Ecstasy, Passion & Pain. Needing a singer to become a full band, they engaged Norma Jean Wright by an agreement permitting her to have a solo career in addition to her work for the band. Using a young recording engineer Bob Clearmountain, they created the tracks "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)". As a result, Chic became a support act.
Under contract with Atlantic Records company, during 1977 they released the self-titled debut album Chic, which was an extension of the demonstration tape. But Edwards and Rogers were convinced that to produce the band's recording studio sound when performing live with sound and visuals, they needed to add another female singer. Wright suggested her friend Luci Martin, who became a member during late winter/early spring of 1978.
Soon after the sessions ended for the debut album, the band members began to work on Wright's self-titled debut solo album Norma Jean, released during 1978. This album included the successful nightclub song "Saturday." To facilitate Wright's solo career, the band had agreed to contract her with a separate record company.
The legal details of this contract eventually forced Wright to end her relationship with the band during mid-1978, but she participated in the sessions for Chic-produced Sister Sledge album, We Are Family. She was replaced as a singer by Alfa Anderson, who had done back-up vocals on the bands debut album. For the Sister Sledge project, Edwards and Rogers wrote and produced "He's the Greatest Dancer" (originally intended to be a Chic song), in exchange for "I Want Your Love" (intended originally to be performed by Sister Sledge).
1978-1979: "Le Freak" and "Good Times"
The group endeavored to express "deep hidden meaning" in every song they wrote. During late 1978, the band released the album C'est Chic, containing one of its best-known tracks, "Le Freak." It was created in a jam session in Edwards' apartment, after they had failed on New Years Eve 1977 to meet with Grace Jones at New York's nightclub Studio 54. The original refrain "Aaa, fuck off", intended for the doormen of Studio 54, was replaced that night with "Aaa, freak out," after trying a version with "Aaa, freak off." The resulting single was a great success, scoring No. 1 on the US charts and selling more than six million copies. It was the best-selling single album ever of Atlantic's parent company, Warner Music, until Madonna's "Vogue" in 1990.
The next year, the group released the Risqué album and the lead track "Good Times", one of the most influential songs of the era. The track was the basis of Grandmaster Flash's "Adventures on the Wheels of Steel" and the Sugarhill Gang's breakthrough hip-hop music single, "Rapper's Delight." It has been sampled since by many dance and hip-hop acts, as well as being the inspiration for Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust", Blondie's "Rapture", Captain Sensible's "Wot?" and the bass line for Daft Punk "Around the World".
At the same time, Edwards and Rodgers composed, arranged, performed, and produced many influential disco and Rhythm & Blues records for various artists, including Sister Sledge's albums We Are Family (1979) and Love Somebody Today (1980); Sheila and B. Devotion's "Spacer"; Diana Ross's 1980 album Diana, which included the successful singles "Upside Down", "I'm Coming Out" and "My Old Piano"; Carly Simon's "Why" (from 1982 soundtrack Soup For One); and Debbie Harry's debut solo album KooKoo. An album recorded with Johnny Mathis was rejected by his label and remains unreleased.
Chic also introduced a young session vocalist, Luther Vandross, who sang on Chic's early albums. He later became notable in his own right.
1980s1990s: Disbanding, other projects, a brief reunion
After the anti-disco reaction of the 1970s, the band struggled to obtain both airplay and sales, and during the early 1980s they disbanded. Rodgers and Edwards produced records for a variety of artists together and separately. The Chic rhythm section of Rodgers, Edwards, and Thompson provided instrumental back-up for the successful album Diana for Diana Ross that ended up selling over ten million albums internationally during 1980, with Rodgers and Edwards producing. It yielded the four weeks at number-one single "Upside Down" and the top ten song "I'm Coming Out." "My Old Piano" was also a top ten single for Ross in the United Kingdom. Rodgers co-produced David Bowie's 1983 album Let's Dance and was also responsible largely for the early success of Madonna during 1984 with her Like a Virgin album, which again reunited Rodgers, Thompson, and Edwards, with keyboardist Rob Sabino and collaborators Jeff Bova and Jimmy Bralower. During 1984, Rodgers was involved with a project of the band The Honeydrippers and helped produce that band's only EP. Thompson and Edwards worked with the group Power Station on its successful 1985 album, as well as Power Station main singer Robert Palmer's solo success Riptide that same year, both of which Edwards produced. 1985 saw Rodgers producing the Thompson Twins successful Here's To Future Days album, and appearing live with them and Madonna at Live Aid in Philadelphia. During 1986, Rodgers produced the fourth album from Duran Duran, Notorious. Bernard Edwards later gave Duran Duran's bassist John Taylor the bass guitar he'd played on many of Chic's songs. Taylor had long been a Chic fan, his style influenced greatly by Edwards' playing.
After a 1989 birthday party where Rodgers, Edwards, Paul Shaffer, and Anton Fig played old Chic songs, Rodgers and Edwards organized a reunion of the old band. They recorded new material - a single, "Chic Mystique" (remixed by Masters at Work) and subsequent album Chic-Ism, both of which charted- and played live all over the world, to great audience and critical acclaim.
During 1996, Rodgers was honored as the Top Producer in the World in Billboard Magazine, and was named a JT Super Producer. That year, he performed with Bernard Edwards, Sister Sledge, Steve Winwood, Simon Le Bon, and Slash in a series of commemorative concerts in Japan. His longtime musical partner Edwards died of pneumonia at age 43 during the trip on April 18, 1996. His final performance was recorded and released as Live at the Budokan. Chic continued to tour with new musicians.
Thompson died of kidney cancer on November 12, 2003 at age 48.
2000present: Compilations, nominations, and venues
Chic released four new albums during the 2000s (three compilations, and one live album): The Very Best of Chic, Good Times: The Very Best of the Hits & the Remixes, A Night in Amsterdam, and The Definitive Groove Collection. A box set, Nile Rodgers Presents The Chic Organization, Vol.1: Savoir Faire was released in 2010, covering Rodgers and Edwards' productions both for Chic and for other artists up to the original break-up of the partnership in 1983.
Chic has been nominated for inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame eight times: 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2013. In October 2013 Chic was once again announced as a nominee for the class of 2014. Rodgers and Chic continue to perform to major audiences worldwide.
In October 2010, Rodgers began his fight with prostate cancer. In October 2011, he released his autobiography entitled Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny. On July 29, 2013, Rodgers posted on Twitter that he was cancer free.
In 2013, Chic along with Nile Rodgers headlined the West Holts Stage on Friday night at the Glastonbury Festival in the UK, and played a variety of tracks both from Chic and from Nile Rodgers' extensive list of songs he had worked on for other artists. A compilation album, Up All Night, credited to The Chic Organization and featuring their productions for various artists between 1977 and 1982, was released the following Monday, 1 July, and entered the UK Compilation Albums Chart at number 2 a week later. Chic and Nile Rodgers also played the iTunes Festival in London in September 2013.
Chic, along with Nile Rodgers, opened The X Factor (UK TV series) live show on 2 November 2013 for Disco week. They performed a medley of hits including "Le Freak", "He's The Greatest Dancer" and "Good Times".
Influences and awards
Chic influenced the vocal and music style of the Italian-American disco band Change, which had a series of successes during the early 1980s. Interestingly the two acts also had a couple things in common; Chic alumnus Vandross was also Change's vocalist upon the latter's formation, and like Chic, were also signed to Atlantic through its distributed RFC label.
In addition to refining a relatively minimalist disco sound, Chic helped to inspire other artists to create their own sound. For example, The Sugarhill Gang used "Good Times" as the basis for its success "Rapper's Delight", which helped initiate the hip hop recorded music format as we know today. "Good Times" was used also by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five on its hit "..On the Wheels of Steel," which was used in the end sequence of the first hip-hop movie, Wild Style, from 1982. Blondie's 1980 US number-one song "Rapture" was not only influenced by "Good Times" but was a direct tribute to Chic, and main singer Deborah Harry's 1981 debut solo album Koo Koo was produced by Edwards and Rodgers.
Chic was cited as an influence by the majority of successful bands from Great Britain during the 1980s. John Taylor, the bassist from Duran Duran claims the bass part of their top 10 single "Rio" was influenced by Edwards' work with Chic. Even Johnny Marr of The Smiths has cited the group as a formative influence. Rodgers guitar work has been so emulated as to become commonplace, and Edwards' lyrical bass is also much-cited in music circles, as is Thompson's recorded drumwork. Queen got the inspiration for its single "Another One Bites the Dust" from Bernard Edwards' familiar bass guitar riff on "Good Times" after John Deacon met the band in The Power Station recording studio. (Source: "Everybody Dance: Chic and the Politics of Disco")
The French duo Modjo used the guitar sample from Chic's "Soup for one" as the basic theme for its most famous single Lady (Hear Me Tonight).
On September 19, 2005, the group was honored at the Dance Music Hall of Fame ceremony in New York when they were inducted in three categories: 1) Artist Inductees, 2) Record Inductees for "Good Times," and 3) Producers Inductees, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards.
Throughout the year 2011, the song "Funny Bone" could be heard quite often as the bumper music on the Rush Limbaugh show daily. Bumper music is snippets of songs to segue commercial slots.
- Bernard Edwards (October 31, 1952 April 18, 1996) bass, vocals
- Nile Rodgers guitar, vocals
- Tony Thompson (November 15, 1954 November 12, 2003) drums
- Alfa Anderson lead vocals
- Luci Martin lead vocals
The Chic Strings:
- Karen Milne
- Marianne Carroll
- Valerie Haywood
- Cheryl Hong
- Karen Karlsrud
- Gene Orloff
- Vocals Fonzi Thornton, Michele Cobbs, Ullanda McCullough, Luther Vandross, Jocelyn Brown, Sylver Logan Sharp, Jessica Wagner, Folami, Kimberly Davis
- Keyboards Richard Hilton, Raymond Jones, Robert Sabino, Andy Schwartz, Nathaniel S. Hardy, Jr., Selan Lerner
- Percussion Sammy Figueroa
- Bass - Jerry Barnes
- Horns - William Holloman, Curt Ramm, Don Harris
- Main article: Chic discography
|Wikipedia books are collections of articles that can be downloaded or ordered in print.|
- List of number-one hits (United States)
- List of artists who reached number one on the Hot 100 (U.S.)
- List of number-one dance hits (United States)
- List of artists who reached number one on the U.S. Dance chart
||This article includes a list of references or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations where appropriate. (August 2008)|
- Everybody Dance: Chic and the Politics of Disco, Daryl Easlea, Helter Skelter Publishing (October 24, 2004), ISBN 1-900924-56-0
- 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Rock Days of Disco by Robert Christgau for The New York Times December 2, 2011
- "Nirvana, Kiss, Hall and Oates Nominated for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame". Rolling Stone. October 16, 2013. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
- 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography, 5th, Edinburgh: Mojo Books.
- CLASSIC TRACKS: Chic 'Le Freak'. Sound on Sound (April 2005). Retrieved on October 12, 2008.
- Ferreira, Sky (July 29, 2013). Instead of showing. Twitter. Retrieved on July 31, 2013.
- Classic Albums episode
- Chic Risque CD. CD Universe. Retrieved on October 12, 2008.
- Healter Skelter Publising: Everybody Dance - Chic and the Politics of Disco. Jonisledgeonline.com (2013-07-18). Retrieved on 2014-04-17.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Chic (band)
- Chic (band) at All Music Guide
- [ Chic (band)] biography at Billboard Magazine
- Chic (band) biography at Rolling Stone Magazine
- nilerodgers.com Nile Rodgers' official website
- 75 minute audio mix of Chic songs/interviews