Nile Gregory Rodgers Jr. (born September 19, 1952) is an American record producer, songwriter, musician, composer, arranger and guitarist. The co-founder of Chic, he has written, produced, and performed on records that have cumulatively sold more than 500 million albums and 75 million singles worldwide. He is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, a three-time Grammy Award-winner, and the chairman of the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Known for his "chucking" guitar style, Rolling Stone wrote in 2014 that “the full scope of Nile Rodgers' career is still hard to fathom."
Rodgers was born in New York City, on September 19, 1952, to Beverly Goodman. She became pregnant the first time she had sex, and gave birth to Rodgers when she was 14. His biological father, Nile Rodgers Sr. – a traveling percussionist who specialized in Afro-Cuban beats – was rarely present as Rodgers grew up; although influential in his life, Rodgers saw his father only a "handful" of times prior to his death in 1970.
1970s: Formation of Chic, "Le Freak", Sister Sledge
Rodgers met bassist Bernard Edwards in 1970 while working as a touring musician for the Sesame Street stage show. Together they formed The Big Apple Band, and worked as back-up musicians for the vocal group New York City ("I'm Doin' Fine Now"). New York City's one hit allowed them to tour extensively, even opening for The Jackson 5 on the American leg of their first world tour in 1973. The band dissolved after their second album failed to yield a hit, but Nile and Bernard joined forces with drummer Tony Thompson, and worked and recorded as a funk rock band called The Boys, which played numerous gigs up and down the East Coast. Although there was label interest, record companies passed on the band after discovering its members were black, believing that black rock artists would be too hard to promote.
Inspired by Roxy Music, Chic developed a sound that was a fusion of jazz, soul, and funk grooves with melodies and lyrics with a European influence. Between gigs, they recorded the song "Dance, Dance, Dance", with then-boss Luther Vandross on vocals. Originally released by Buddah Records, it was an instant hit when it was re-released by Atlantic in the summer of 1977. Atlantic picked up an album option with Rodgers and Edwards, who quickly wrote more songs, and Chic's self-titled debut was released in November.
The success of Chic's first singles led Atlantic to offer Rodgers and Edwards the opportunity to produce any act on its roster. They chose Sister Sledge, whose 1979 album, We Are Family, peaked at No. 3 and remained on the charts well into 1980. The first two singles, "He's the Greatest Dancer" and the title cut "We Are Family" both reached No. 1 on the R&B chart, and No. 6 and No. 2, respectively on the Pop chart. In April 2018, "We Are Family" was selected to be preserved in the Library of Congress.
1980s: Diana Ross, David Bowie, INXS, Madonna, Duran Duran
With Chic no longer occupying most of his time, Rodgers was free to focus on working with other artists. He produced David Bowie's biggest selling album Let's Dance, which yielded the hit singles "Let's Dance", “China Girl,” and "Modern Love". He produced the single "Original Sin" by INXS, and in 1984, he produced Madonna's blockbuster album Like a Virgin, which scored three hit singles including its title track, "Material Girl", and "Dress You Up." He worked extensively with Duran Duran, remixing their biggest-selling single, "The Reflex", producing "Wild Boys" on their 1984 live album, Arena, and co-producing the album Notorious.
Rodgers and Edwards reformed Chic in 1992 and recorded new material for the album Chic-Ism.
In 1996 they released a Japan-only album consisting of old Chic material rerecorded with guest vocalists, Chic Freak and More Treats . Edwards and Rodgers performed with Sister Sledge, Steve Winwood, and Slash in a series of commemorative concerts in Japan. Edwards died following a concert on April 17, 1996. Rodgers discovered his body. He later said that when Edwards died he "cried like a baby and suffered intensely but eventually realised the best tribute to him would be to carry on and be the best I could be." A year later, Rodgers returned to Japan to pay homage to his fallen partner, and in 1999, Rodgers released Live at the Budokan, a live recording of Edwards' final performance.The album was not overdubbed or changed in order to keep the recording pure.
In 2002, Rodgers returned to work again with the original five members of Duran Duran when he co-produced Astronaut. The album rose to No.3 in the UK.
Following the September 11 attacks, Rodgers established the We Are Family Foundation to promote tolerance and multiculturalism. The foundation's first project was a re-recording of "We Are Family" , performed by more than 200 musicians and celebrities. The accompanying music video was directed by Spike Lee. The Making and Meaning of We Are Family, an 80-minute documentary, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002. In March 2002, a video of over 100 famous children’s characters singing "We Are Family" aired simultaneously on the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon and PBS. Robert Dole and Orrin Hatch proposed a National We Are Family Day in congress, and during the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, the Children's Museum of Utah launched a We Are Family exhibit.
2010s: Autobiography, Daft Punk, Songwriter's Hall of Fame, It's About Time
In 2010, Rhino Records released a four-CD box set, Nile Rodgers Presents The Chic Organization, Volume 1: Savoir Faire, which for the first time collected tracks from all of the acts produced by The Chic Organization up to their original break-up in 1983. Rodgers provided sleevenotes for the set, which was also reissued in 2013.
Rodgers' critically acclaimed autobiography entitled Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny was published by Spiegel & Grau, a Random House imprint, in late 2011. It was named one of the top 10 of the 25 Greatest Rock Memoirs of All Time by Rolling Stone.
In February 2012, Rodgers announced that he was collaborating with electronic band Daft Punk for their latest album, "teasing out their R&B influences". During a live interview for the UMFTV at the 2013 Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Rodgers confirmed that he was working with Daft Punk.
On March 31, 2013, BBC Four broadcast a documentary about his music life, Nile Rodgers: The Hitmaker, starting from the point that Chic was formed until the present, including stories about his involvement in producing numerous hits and albums for some of the world's best artist and bands.
True to his word, Rodgers performed on Daft Punk's chart-topping album Random Access Memories. Rodgers co-wrote and played guitar on three tracks: "Give Life Back to Music", "Lose Yourself to Dance", and "Get Lucky". On April 21, 2013 "Get Lucky" entered the official UK Singles Chart at No. 3, despite having been available for little more than 24 hours, and rose to No. 1 on April 28, 2013. In an interview with Official Charts Company, Rodgers said, "I've had big records and Number 1s; I have had records that were Number 1 in the United States but nowhere else… I've had records which have done well [in the UK], but not in the States. But to have this ubiquitous record, that is a hit everywhere… It's amazing to me! I'm out on the road and I can hear it wherever I go. I'm flabbergasted!"
Rodgers declined to perform "Get Lucky" live until performing it live with Daft Punk, but at Chic's live shows in 2013, the record would usually be played immediately after the group's set, with Rodgers remaining on stage to lead the crowd in clapping and singing along. After Rodgers performed the song with Daft Punk at the Grammy Awards in January 2014, "Get Lucky" was added to the setlist for Chic's 2014 live dates.
On June 28, 2013 Chic ft. Nile Rodgers' performance at the Glastonbury Festival in the UK was aired live on BBC. The performance was given a five star review by The Guardian.
In July 2013, Rhino Records released Nile Rodgers Presents The Chic OrganizationUp All Night(The Greatest Hits), a compilation album featuring songs written, played or produced by Rodgers and Bernard Edwards for Chic and various artists including Diana Ross, Sister Sledge, Carly Simon, Debbie Harry, Johnny Mathis, Sheila & B. Devotion and Norma Jean Wright. Up All Night reached No. 2 on the UK Compilation Album Chart for the week ending July 13, 2013. In October 2013, Rhino released Nile Rodgers PresentsThe Chic OrganizationUp All Night(The Greatest Hits Disco Edition) that includes a medley taken from Chic ft. Nile Rodgers' live performance at the 2013 Glastonbury Festival.
In March 2014, Rolling Stone named Nile Rodgers one of the 50 Most Important People in EDM, stating, "The full scope of Nile Rodgers' career is still hard to fathom, and it's not just ongoing, it's in overdrive."
Rodgers' solo single "Do What You Wanna Do (IMS Anthem)" was released on August 10, 2014 to benefit his We Are Family Foundation.
Rodgers was inducted into the 2017 class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for Musical Excellence. "It's sort of bittersweet," says Rodgers. "I'm quite flattered that they believed that I was worthy, but my band Chic didn't win. They plucked me out of the band and said, 'You're better than Chic.' That's wacky to me ... I am flattered and I think it's cool, but I feel like somebody put me in the lifeboat and told my family they can't get in." 
On the evening of June 25, 2017 Rodgers and Chic returned to the Glastonbury Festival, as headliners on the Pyramid Stage, for an audience of close to 100,000.
After George Michael's death December 2016, a new version of Michael's song "Fantasy" was released in September 2017, credited to "George Michael featuring Nile Rodgers." The track, previously released as a B-side by Michael's label in 1990, was reworked by Rodgers and features him prominently on guitar. It was Michael's only posthumous release.
In October 2017, BBC Four broadcast the three-hour, three-part, "Nile Rodgers: How To Make It in the Music Business"
In March 2018, Nile Rodgers was the subject of a Front and Center episode that aired on PBS, "Front and Center: Songwriters Hall of Fame: Nile Rodgers," which captures his and the late Bernard Edwards' induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as an intimate concert and talk at the McKittrick Hotel in New York City.
In June 2018, "Till the World Falls", the first single from Nile Rodgers & Chic's first album since 1992, It's About Time, was released. The song featured Mura Masa, Cosha and Vic Mensa. The album was released in September 2018.
Rodgers plays a 1960 Fender Stratocaster with a 1959 neck, nicknamed the Hitmaker, which he acquired as a trade-in at a shop in Miami Beach, Florida. Exceptionally light, it has a maple fingerboard and a worn white finish. Rodgers claims it has a unique sound. After Rodgers purchased the guitar, Edwards taught him how to play it in a chop chord style, which he called "chucking". In his autobiography, Rodgers writes:
He fingered the chords with his left hand, and his right hand would continuously play sixteen notes to the bar while accenting the main parts of the rhythm ... One lesson was all I needed. For the next few nights straight, while my roommate pursued all manner of trysts, I was having a love affair in the bathroom with my new ax. In just a few days, I'd emerge as a chucking funk guitarist who knew more jazz chord inversions than most of my R&B counterparts.
The Fender Custom Shop introduced a limited edition Nile Rodgers Hitmaker Stratocaster, a recreation of Rodgers' guitar, in January 2014.
In the early 1990s, Rodgers woke up one morning in hospital to learn that his heart had stopped eight times, and he was only alive due to the actions of the doctor filling out his death certificate. He would give up cocaine and alcohol three years later after a friend showed him a tape of him performing poorly in 1994.
In January 2011 Rodgers revealed on his website that he had aggressive prostate cancer, which had been diagnosed in October 2010. As a result, he started a cancer blog called "Walking on Planet C" detailing his status and upcoming projects.
On July 29, 2013, Rodgers posted on Twitter that he had been given the all-clear regarding his cancer. In November 2013, he gave an interview to BBC News talking about Daft Punk, Madonna, Diana Ross and beating cancer.
On December 6, 2017, he announced on his blog that he had recently had surgery to remove a lump doctors had discovered on his right kidney after he was hospitalized for an E. coli infection.
Dance Music Hall of Fame
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences NY Chapter
Governor's Lifetime Achievement Award
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences
With Daft Punk: Album of the Year Random Access Memories
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences
With Daft Punk: Record of the Year "Get Lucky"
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences
With Daft Punk Best Pop Duo/Group Performance "Get Lucky"
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