5 Things You Might Not Know About Nile Rodgers

Tuesday, September 19, 2017
5 Things You Might Not Know About Nile Rodgers

Today we celebrate the birthday of Nile Rodgers, whose work with Chic is legendary and whose skills as a producer have been utilized to great effect by everyone from Duran Duran to Sister Sledge. Still, for as much as you may already know about Rodgers and his work, we’d like to think that there are at least few things in this list that you weren’t already aware of.

1. He once jammed with Jimi Hendrix.

Although he was all of 16 years old at the time, Rodgers had an encounter with Hendrix in Greenwich Village, one which he detailed in his autobiography. “We moved and grooved like a flock of birds… The studio was thick with cigarette and cannabis smoke,” wrote Rodgers. “We were drinking from flasks filled with Almaden wine… I said, ‘This is the greatest stuff I’ve heard in my life….’ ‘Hey man,’ Jimi said, sheepishly. ‘Did anybody record that, man?’ We’d been so caught up in the moment – and of course so high – that no one had thought to roll tape!”

2. He produced an album for Johnny Mathis which has never been officially released.

Although a few tracks from the sessions for Mathis’s 1981 album I LOVE MY LADY have found their way onto various compilations over the years, the album itself remains in the Columbia Records vaults, but it should be noted that it’s nothing to do with Mathis. In a 2015 interview with Billboard, Mathis said that he was “very proud” of the album because it “got me in a little different direction” from where he’d been going musically. He also hasn’t given up hope that it’ll see release someday. “You know, as long as those things are on vinyl or tape or what have you, the record companies are going to release them someday…probably before I'm dead!”

3. He helped Carly Simon explore her reggae side.

Okay, before you start bristling, we know as well as you do that “Why,” which debuted on the soundtrack to the 1982 film Soup for One, isn’t going to be mistaken for a lost Bob Marley track. Still, there’s no question that this Simon song has some elements of reggae in its beat, and it’s also got a simple-but-insidiously catchy keyboard riff that you can’t get out of your head. As for the lyrics, a great philosopher once wrote of this track, “I’ve always said the best dance music comes from loss and pain, not happiness and joy, and this nearly forgotten, tucked away little gem proves that point.” #NailedIt

SPOTIFY: Listen here

4. He met David Bowie for the first time mostly because Billy Idol said, “Hey, there’s David Bowie!”

While that may not be precisely what Idol said, it’s effectively what he said, based on the story told by Rodgers in an interview with The Stranger. “I met David Bowie by accident,” said Rodgers. “I always meet people by accident. But I was hanging out with Billy Idol, and we went to the Continental [a storied East Village punk club that closed its doors the same year as CBGB, 2006]. Idol spotted Bowie and pointed him out to me. It was 6 a.m., so I was not shy at that moment. I'm usually shy. But with some help, I'm not. I approached him, and we began talking. That's how it happened. I also knew the people who were living at his building. They were the people on the YOUNG AMERICANS [album], like Luther Vandross, who I had worked with in the past. Not long after that, we started working together.”

5. He co-produced a song for Keith Urban.

This is probably common knowledge within the country music community, but one never knows how far info like this spreads, so we figured “Sun Don’t Let Me Down” was worthy of inclusion. Rodgers isn’t the only high-profile guest star on the track, either: it also features Pitbull. No, wait, come back and listen, it’s catchy as all get-out!

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