Nile Rodgers is one of the most successful musician, producer, composer in our time. He is also one of the artistically greatest. Through the work of CHIC, David Bowie, Madonna, Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams and countless others he has been part of the soundtrack for several generations in the Western world. This year Nile Rodgers was the keynote at the SXSW Music Conference.
Nile Rodgers started his keynote by telling the story from when he was 15. He started his musical career as a classical musician, but something happened that changed everything. He was asked by some friends if he wanted to take a trip, and not knowing about Timothy Leary and LSD, he said yes. Without knowing how he got the LSD in his blood, he spent two days on a trip listening to The Doors. This changed his musical direction, and he left the classical music for pop and a hippy attitude.
He also got rid of his snobby attitude to hit music when his guitar teacher told him that every song that sold millions of copies was an art piece in itself, being relevant to so many people. Meeting bassist Bernhard Edwards was another crucial event, or one of many chance encounters, as he recalled them, and together they started the band CHIC in 1976, which was one of the most successful bands in the disco era.
Through the late 70’s and up until today Nile Rodgers has cooperated as a producer, arranger, composer and musician with some of the biggest acts in the US: David Bowie on Let’s Dance, Diana Ross on Upside Down, Madonna on Like A Virgin, INXS, Duran Duran, Sheena Easton, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, Grace Jones, and also CHIC that he kept as a band the whole time.
In his keynote Nile Rodgers talked about his career and showed us his signature guitar style, which is a rhythmic plucking on abbreviated chords that you can hear in the CHIC songs, and specially on his latest greatest hit with Daft Punk, Get Lucky. At the age of 64 Nile Rodgers is not ready to retire, and we can look forward to many more songs produced or arranged by him, and with that characteristic guitar signature.
In 2015 Nile Rodgers played with CHIC at the Øya Festival in Oslo, Norway, and here are some photos from the concert. You can see more photos from the concert here.
All photos are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.