Chic Biography

Probably the band of the disco generation, Chic was built around Nile Rodgers (19 September 1952, New York, USA; guitar) and Bernard Edwards (b. 31 October 1952, Greenville, North Carolina, USA, d. 18 April 1996, Tokyo, Japan; bass). During the 60s Rodgers had played in a rock group, New World Rising, before joining the Apollo Theatre house band. Edwards had played with several struggling musicians prior to meeting his future partner through a mutual friend. They both joined the Big Apple Band in 1971, which subsequently toured, backing hit group New York City. Chic evolved out of a collection of demos that Edwards and Rodgers had recorded. Two female singers, Norma Jean Wright and Luci Martin, were added to the line-up, along with Tony Thompson (b. 15 November 1954, New York, USA, d. 12 November 2003, Encino, California, USA), a former drummer with LaBelle. Wright later left for a solo career and was replaced by Alfa Anderson. The quintet scored an immediate hit with ‘Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)’ (1977), which introduced wit and sparkling instrumentation to the maligned disco genre. In 1978, ‘Le Freak’ became the biggest-selling single in Atlantic Records’ history, with a total of over four million copies moved. Chic’s grasp of melody was clearly apparent on ‘I Want Your Love’ (1979), while US number 1 ‘Good Times’, with its ferocious bass riff, was not only a gold disc in itself, but became the sampled backbone to several scratch and rap releases (including the first ever rap hit, the Sugarhill Gang’s ‘Rapper’s Delight’).

Edwards’ and Rodgers’ skills were also in demand for outside projects and their handiwork was evident on ‘Upside Down’ (Diana Ross), ‘We Are Family’ (Sister Sledge) and ‘Spacer’ (Sheila B. Devotion). However, their distinctive sound grew too defined to adapt to changing fashions and Chic’s later work was treated with indifference. Edwards’ solo album, Glad To Be Here, was a disappointment, and Rodgers’ effort, Adventures In The Land Of Groove, fared little better. However, Rodgers’ unique work on David Bowie’s 1983 album Let’s Dance provided much of the singer’s newly-discovered propulsive bite. A year later Rodgers produced Madonna’s first major hit album, Like A Virgin, and helped Duran Duran to the top of the US charts with a remix of ‘The Reflex’. Edwards took control of recording the Power Station, the Duran Duran offshoot that also featured Tony Thompson. Edwards also provided the backbone to Robert Palmer’s 1986 hit, ‘Addicted To Love’. In 1992, the duo re-formed Chic as a rebuff to the rap and new dance styles, releasing a single, ‘Chic Mystique’, and an album. Sadly Chic’s revival looks to have ended with the death of Bernard Edwards in 1996 following a concert in Japan, but their huge influence on dance music (especially its rhythms) ensures a place in pop history. Rodgers continues as a popular producer and in 1998 founded his own distribution and record label Sumthing Else.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

Filter Results