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Snippets of my trip down the musical river with Nile Rodgers of Chic 2010!!

Ahead of his Fold Festival 24th's a snippet of my 2010 interview with Nile Rodgers. Before Chic how you were involved in the Sesame Street Band  and with Bernard Edwards  and Tony Thompson as part of New York City's "I’m Doing Fine Now" backing band line up ? The Sesame Street Band was my first real professional paid tax information job. It was a long running job with one of my longest friends Fonzi Thornton and Luther Vandross. Fonzi replaced Luther and Carlos Amar as they both did the Young American thing with David Bowie. The start of the Big Apple Band happened when Bernard got the job as music director for the New York City group and we’d become friends from doing pick up gigs at the weekends. When they auditioned guitar players Bernard got that job for me. We didn’t even know Tony Thompson then  as we stayed with New York City for around 2 years. In 1973 when the Jackson 5 were doing a world tour as their management had ideas of them being bigger than the Beatles, so he wanted them to have more hits before they hit the UK. We were the opening act of the J5 American tour and still without Tony. We did our last show in London and staying in Bayswater and my hotel room was broken into and my passport stolen. It was New York City’s last tour and really they were a one hit wonder that toured for nearly 2 years on the strength of "I’m Doing Fine Now" around 1972/73 as the 2nd album did nothing. They returned to the US that weekend and broke up after. I got left in London to go to the US Embassy to get a new passport, my girlfriend at the time worked as a hostess at a club called Churchill's an knew everyone on the cool club circuit in London like Gullivers. She took me to see and her favourite band a new group called Roxy Music who were playing at the Roxy which I thought was really cool. The crowd was beautiful hip well to do and cool. I thought this would be cool to do this in black music so when I got back I spoke with Bernard and we auditioned for our band The Big Apple Band. Tony Thompson auditioned and I knew him as an exceptional jazz drummer from perviously working with him in Persian/Middle Eastern pick up bands like Jamshid Al Murad and Grugosh. We were in that circle and he was versatile and exceptional as that music is complicated to play. He had just left Labelle auditioned blew me away but Bernard didn’t like him as he overplayed. I already know the story but whats the story of Grace Jones Studio 54 and "Le Freak" ? "Everybody Dance" was popular as an underground anthem in New York clubs like Studio 54 for 2 years and Grace Jones and everyone knew it well and the song’s impact after a year and a half. "Dance Dance Dance" was getting pop radio airplay also and "Everybody Dance" our 2nd formal single, but 1st brought back to life, had her invite us New Years Eve 1977 into 1978 gig at Studio 54, with us as her new record composers. Assuming Grace added us we went to stage door and the guy told us to 'Fuck Off'. We were pissed off and exhausted and went to the liquor store and bought some rock n roll mouth wash Don Peringnon and went to my near by  apartment and stared jamming. So we started playing this groove and singing "ahhh fuck off".....fuck studio 54 which eventually became "Freak Off" and made it "Le Freak" to make it our own. With "Rappers Delight" did Sylvia Robinson and Sugar Hill approach you before or after using "Good Times"? Well (Nile laughs)I first heard "Rappers Delight" in a nightclub called Leviticus which was predominantly a black club that played a lot of the mainstream and underground tracks before they came out. Before we became known as Chic we were a cover band and copied records that sounded exactly like the original artist. We used to copy the tracks and write breakdowns of very famous records that didn’t have breakdowns, so dj’s could play them. We had a recording studio we did a famous breakdown of "Love Is The Message" by MFSB with along tape loop ..we did that and I get excited when I hear it. So when I first heard "Rappers Delight" I thought they had done what we had done and that it was an instrumental for a rapper to rap over. That was very common then in the USA and even in the UK the Jamaican guys used to talk over the tunes. So I knew it wasn’t us playing but I heard they took our strings run on a two track and made it sound very ambient. I thought ok they put more work into their production than we did, then I looked in the dj booth and there was no rapper. The dj was drinking champagne with some girl and the tune was going on for 10 minutes and I thought what the fuck is this? I asked the dj where he got it he said down town from a record store and he showed me the label, and my name wasn’t on it. I went "Woah"!!.. Now when we did that they were white labels and only sold to dj’s we never tried to make commercial profit from someone else work. If it was underground we had no problem with it but it had taken us years to work on a song where Bernard did a walking bass line to a groove. We tried it in 76 with an Ashford and Simpson track and it didn’t work and now someone comes along and basically steals it without credit or royalties ..No that can’t happen!! So we issued a lawsuit and settled out of court and if you see copies of "Rapper's Delight" now.. we got our names on it. For Fold Festival Tickets click here


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