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Chic

rodgers edwards hit bernard

Chic, the most commercially successful black disco group of the late 1970s. MEMBERSHIP: Nile Rodgers, gtr. (b. N.Y., N.Y., Sept. 19, 1952); Bernard Edwards, kybd., bs., voc. (b. Greenville, N.C., Oct. 31, 1952); Tony Thompson, drm. (b. Queens, N.Y., Nov. 15, 1954). Vocalists included Norma Jean Wright and Luci Martin; Wright was replaced by Alfa Anderson in 1978.

Chic featured the lean, funky bass-playing of Bernard Edwards—perhaps the most imitated bassist since Larry Graham of Sly and the Family Stone—and the sophisticated lead guitar playing of Nile Rodgers. As the writers, arrangers, and producers, Edwards and Rodgers provided Chic with a playful, glistening sound flavored with strings and jazzy ornamentation. In addition, the rhythm track to Chic’s “Good Times’’ served as the foundation to the early rap hit “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang. As a producer Rogers later created one of the most engaging and successful sounds of the 1980s, on albums by a wide range of performers, including Diana Ross’s Diana, David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, and Madonna’s Like a Virgin .

Bernard Edwards lived in N.Y. since age 10 and Nile Rodgers grew up in Greenwich Village and Hollywood. As a guitarist, Rodgers played a wide variety of styles, from folk to classical to jazz. Jimi Hendrix was a major influence. Rodgers was a member of the house band at the Apollo Theater in the early 1970s and a session and nightclub musician from 1971 to 1977. Rodgers was introduced to Edwards in 1970, and in 1972 the two formed the Big Apple Band with drummer Tony Thompson to back up the vocal group N.Y.C., who scored a major pop hit with “I’m Doin’ Fine Now” in 1973. After years of studio and tour work, the three formed Chic in early 1977 with female vocalists Norma Jean Wright and Luci Martin. They soon hit with the silly “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” on Budda, and switched to Atlantic in fall 1977.

Wright left in 1978, to be replaced by Alfa Anderson. Chic then scored a top R&B and pop hit with “Le Freak.” Still dismissed as purveyors of superficial disco music, Rodgers and Edwards achieved a measure of recognition for their distinctive sound with the Chic hits “I Want Your Love” and “Good Times” (which served as the basis for several early rap songs) and their production of Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family.” Although subsequent recordings by Chic were far less successful commercially, Rodgers soon found great success as a producer, beginning with the recording of Diana Ross’s 1980 Diana, the best-selling album of her career.

Chic broke up in 1983, and Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards each recorded solo albums. Rodgers successfully applied his production talents to David Bowie’s comeback album Let’s Dance (1983), Madonna’s Like a Virgin (1984), and Mick Jagger’s She’s the Boss . In 1984 Rodgers joined Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck in the supergroup the Honey drippers, hitting with a remake of Phil Phillips’s 1959 smash “Sea of Love.” In 1985, with Bernard Edwards as producer, Tony Thompson recorded with Robert Palmer and John and Andy Taylor (of Duran Duran) as the Power Station, scoring near-smashes with “Some Like It Hot” and “Get It On.” Edwards produced and provided the bass for Robert Palmer’s top 1986 hit “Addicted to Love.” In 1992 Edwards and Rodgers briefly regrouped as Chic with vocalists Sylvester Logan Sharp and Jenn Thomas on Warner Bros. Records.

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