Nile Rodgers's new memoir, “Le Freak,” recounts his days as a successful record producer and musician
Photo Credit: Chang W. Lee / The New York Times
The venerable musician and record producer Nile Rodgers, wearing a bandanna tied around his dreadlocks, fade-out sunglasses and a charcoal-gray pinstripe jacket, arrived at Cafe Luxembourg right on schedule one morning last week.
The original idea was to have breakfast and then walk around the Upper West Side, revisiting landmarks represented in his new memoir, “Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco and Destiny” (Spiegel & Grau). We could have started at the former site of Ungano’s, next door on West 70th Street, where Mr. Rodgers played guitar in 1970 with a jazz-rock band called New World Rising. He was a teenager then, organizing for the Black Panthers and unofficially attending Stuyvesant High School. (He wasn’t enrolled, he explained; he just sat in on classes with teachers he found interesting.)Add a comment Add a comment
"I watched this sweeping change where New York morphed from dangerous to wonderful, a hip mosaic," recalls Chic's mastermind. "Inside a club, it was nirvana."
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1. "Girl You Need a Change of Mind"
Eddie Kendricks, 1973
This is disco's Big Bang. So many breakdowns, so intricate.
2. "Love to Love You Baby"
Donna Summer, 1975
It was over-the-top erotic, and it was life-changing. It opened my mind to this new music.
3. "Cherchez La Femme"
Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band, 1977
A retro record that reeked of the big-band music I loved as a child. This was the essence of the Chic formula – an experience that transformed you back to a different era, but you were still in modern times.
4. "Good Times"
It was the "disco sucks" summer, but this was a hit anyway.
5. "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"
Santa Esmeralda, 1977
It sets this magical Spanish guitar to a big, building groove.
6. "My Love is Free"
Double Exposure, 1976
They wrote about the economy and politics, breaking away from just love and dancing.
It felt like art: Dalí or Picasso with a groove. Later, we ripped off the bass line for "I Want Your Love."
8. "In the Bush"
This guy just did crazy harmonic stuff. His records were half the foundation of what I've written the rest of my life.
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By Danyel Smith, New York - Photos: Shahar Azran / WireImage
The rainy remnants of Tropical Storm Lee could not stop entertainment glitterati and music literati from streaming into New York's Crosby Street Hotel last night to join Spiegel & Grau as the publishing house celebrated legendary producer/Chic founder Nile Rodgers' (@nilerodgers) new autobiography, "Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny."
Excerpted in this Sunday's New York Times T-Style Magazine (Sept. 11-18), the book is set for publication October 18. Gayle King (O the Oprah Magazine, OWN, Sirius XM) hosted the event with Beatriz Perez, chief sustainability officer of the Coca-Cola Company. Also in the candle-lit, lounge-y space was Kelly Cutrone of People's Revolution, Andrew Essex of Droga5, Angela Yee of New York's WWPR Power 105 (Clear Channel), and BET correspondent Lola Ogunnaike, among many others.
Rodger's editor, Spiegel & Grau executive editor Chris Jackson (who signed and edited Jay-Z's "Decoded"), also presided over the event, and guided a lively Rodgers-who has been writing about his struggles with cancer at his blog -through a series of anecdotes about creative partners Sister Sledge ("We are Family"), Diana Ross ("I'm Coming Out"), David Bowie ("Let's Dance"), Madonna, ("Like a Virgin"), and more.
The murmuring in the room was about Lil Wayne's new album, the tiny spring rolls, and about how well Rodgers looked. Many also wondered aloud about what Chris Jackson's next big project might be-though, as per usual, he remained mum on the subject.Add a comment Add a comment
By Nile Rodgers - Photos: Nile Rodgers Productions
It took me a long time to realize that the things my parents did were not exactly normal. I was about 7 years old, and it was the tail end of the 1950s, when it started to dawn on me that they were . . . well, let's just say they were different. For instance: my friends and I got shots when we went to the doctor and we hated them. But my parents stabbed themselves with needles almost every day, and seemed to enjoy it. Weird.
Most of my friends' parents sounded like the adults in school or on TV when they talked. People understood them. My parents, on the other hand, had their own language, laced with a flowery slang that I picked up the same way the Puerto Rican kids could speak English at school and Spanish at home with their abuelas.Add a comment Add a comment
Talk about a bad trip! In Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny, the new memoir from Nile Rodgers out this October, there’s a acid-addled anecdote involving a certain downtown art superstar, a story that’s perhaps never seen the light of day. It involves a party in Little Italy gone wrong, where someone slipped something in Mr. Rodgers’ drink. It turned out to be the stuff the kids now call DOM. Hell of a drug!
We all down the wrong hallucinogenic concoction every once in a while, but this time there’s a surprise celebrity appearance: Andy Warhol, and he’s been shot! Take it away, Le Freak.Add a comment Add a comment