Thursday, July 18, 2024

Walking on Planet C

I Will Show You What Happened

April 11, 2012

Me and actor extraordinaire Delroy Lindo was in the house

Last night I did Master Class for the Songwriters Hall Of Fame. It was fantastic. It took place at New York University and it was a full house. The people were amazing. I signed books and took pictures late into the night.

I missed my train but I didn't want to miss my blog post time of 4:50 am EDT. I didn't have enough time to write an in depth article but here's a bunch of photos and I Will Show You What Happened.


The beginning of the Master Class

The Master Session Series of the Songwriters Hall of Fame

Playing for the Master Session

Songwriter-in-residence at NYU Phil Galdston and me demonstrating the meaning of the lyrics of Diana Ross' "Im Coming Out"

Master Session's host Phil Galdston and me musing over a songwriting concept

Photo with attendee

Photo with attendee

Photo with attendee

Photo with attendee

Photo with attendee

People in the lobby for signing

Me and Phil thanking the attendees

Explaining DHM (Deep Hidden Meaning) in songs


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The Best People, Places and Things in My Life

April 10, 2012

Le Crib backyard in an Original CHIC '80 Grand Tour t-shirt - It was given to me by my former roadie, Bruce Levine

I've gotten some big surprises over the last few days. It's hard to explain just how much these things mean to me - but I'll try. Think of it as finding a long lost relative and buried treasure combined. Like something you've known, that also feels brand new. I'm truly thankful to have these beautiful gifts. They feel invaluable to me.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the value of an artifact is what the buyer is willing to pay. I'm not sure what I would have paid if I'd found these gifts in a shop but they were given to me by former employees. In America we have a saying, "The best things in life are free." These few simple gifts remind me of some of The Best People, Places and Things in My Life.


My ex-roadie Stephen Powers gave me a '79 CHIC Tour Jacket. I can still fit in it

Bernard and me at the airport looking like Blaxploitation movie cops - PRICELESS!

Me and Luci Martin on stage

Here's a 1979 Iowa State Fair ticket for a CHIC concert. Check out the ticket price

Some of my original charts the Bruce Levine brought back to me

A picture from a '79 UK Tour Book that Bruce gave me

The front cover of a '79 UK Tour Book

Picture from '79 UK Tour Book that my ex-roadie Bruce gave me

"The Best Things in Life Are Free" - Bruce gave this 30+ year old CHIC t-shirt to me last week


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My Last Week In Pictures

April 9, 2012

Today I had the day off and I went to see the film The Hunger Games

Today I had a day off. In my world that's huge. I went to see the film The Hunger Games. Last week, my charity The We Are Family Foundation's Just Peace Summit was winding down. It was a huge success and one of our Global Teen Leaders was on the last eight pages of The Hunger Games.

The very next day, our foundation held the TEDxTeen talks and later that same day I did a book signing followed by a concert called The Legends of Disco at the Hammerstein Ballroom. All three events were very successful.

I started rehearsing for the Rainforest Fund's Concert at Carnegie Hall the following morning. After three days of rehearsing the concert took place. It was also a huge success.

Now I've started planning to go to Japan in a few days. I make this trip every spring and it's become the official beginning of the Spring/Summer touring season for CHIC.

While I sit here contemplating future possibilities, here's My Last Week In Pictures.


Click on the images to enlarge - use your left & right arrows to navigate


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Promise to Keep On Doing It!

April 8, 2012

Me, Fonzi, and Luther - This was my last recording session with Luther Vandross

Today is Easter Sunday and I've been reflecting on my life. I got an email yesterday from my long time friend and colleague Fonzi Thornton, who joined the CHIC Organization when Luther Vandross left to do Change, a CHIC inspired band.

Fonzi had been my roommate with Sesame Street, which was my first professional job, and we toured all around the world. We were just nineteen years old and we've been friends ever since.

We're so proud to be part of a group of New York Studio musicians who were responsible for a lot of music. Music that mainly put people on the dance floor, but at the same time touched their souls. So many of them have passed away and Fonzi always tells me we have to Promise to Keep On Doing It!


Luther Vandross RIP sang with CHIC, Change, Bowie - his songwriting and hit record credits are too long to list

Bernard Edwards RIP CHIC co-founder - his hit songs and productions are too numerous to list

Tony Thompson RIP played with CHIC, Bowie's Let's Dance and Serious Moonlight Tour, Power Station, and Live Aid with Led Zeppelin, etc

Luci Martin, Raymond Jones RIP, and Alfa Anderson with The CHIC strings in the background

Me and The CHIC Organization and Fonzi Thornton Promise to Keep On Doing It


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It's Been 16 Years

April 7, 2012

Honoring the 15th year anniversary of my former partner Bernard Edwards' death in Tokyo last April

I will be heading to Japan soon. I go every spring to honor Bernard Edwards' memory. He was my long time partner, co-founder of The CHIC Organization LTD, and he died in Japan while performing with me about sixteen years ago.

We were doing a mega gig called JT Super Producer. It was a series of concerts that culminated with a 90 minute TV special. The concept was: they'd honor a music producer by telling his story followed by a live concert with many of the artists the producer had worked with. In 1996, I was that producer and Steve Winwood, Duran Duran's Simon LeBon, Sister Sledge, Slash and CHIC were the featured artists.

During the last of the live concerts Bernard Edwards collapsed on stage. He was revived and continued with the three-hour concert. After the show he went back to his hotel room and died on the couch watching television.

I found his body the next morning when he failed to answer his wake-up call. It's hard to believe that It's Been 16 Years.


Me and Bernard Edwards in the Power Station in the 80's

Bernard Edwards, bass player extraordinaire, and me in the 80's

Nile and Nard April '96 Budokan - Bernard's Final Show

Steve Winwood

Simon Le Bon

Sister Sledge


The full original CHIC Organization


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From CHIC to Madonna to Musicals

April 6, 2012

Playing a song today in my kitchen from a new musical I'm composing

Since being attacked by cancer around a year and a half ago, I've tried to live life to the fullest. Part of living what I'd call a full life is giving back. I wouldn't be where I am if people hadn't given so much to me.

I've had many great teachers along life's road and I cherish those lessons. When I compose or produce, I open a vast bag of tricks that live deep within my brain.

At 7 p.m. on April 10, at NYU's Frederick Loewe Theatre, I'll do a Songwriter's Hall of Fame Master Sessions event. I'm going to share some techniques I've used over the years and even play some of my new work. It's open to the public and it's FREE! I'll cover everything From CHIC to Madonna to Musicals.


NYU Steinhardt Poster

One of my music teachers, Ted Dunbar, doing a Master Class

My 2nd CHIC album "C'est CHIC" - There are many stories to tell about our biggest selling record

Madonna's "Like A Virgin" album is her biggest seller

Diana Ross' "Diana" album is her biggest seller

David Bowie's "Let's Dance" album is his biggest seller

Actors at my musical "Double Time" rehearsal at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival


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How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall?

April 5, 2012

The guitar section on stage at Carnegie Hall right before the show

Of course the joke answer to the title of today's blog post is Practice. Tuesday night, we had an amazing performance at Carnegie Hall for the Save The Rainforest Fund. We had to practice a lot before we did the show. There were three days of rehearsals that started at 10 am and went well into the evening. These are some more photos from the last few days that show "How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?"


Practicing the string charts with a small section

Bruno Mars practicing "Jail House Rock"

Sting, Esperanza (looking at another camera), and me taking a photo break at practice

Part of our cast taking a photo during a break while we were practicing at Carnegie Hall

Music Director Narada Michael Walden cues the band

The choir and band listening to Narada's directions

We were about to practice the finale - This is what Carnegie Hall looks like from my chair

Practicing "Moon River" before we'd run the entire show

Practicing a few numbers at Carnegie Hall before we'd practice the entire show

Meryl Streep and Jennifer Hudson in the dressing room area

HA! When I first went to Carnegie Hall as a teen, everybody was smoking cigarettes

President Clinton, Meryl Streep and Bruno Mars (in silhouette) - Have you heard the Pres play sax? The Pres can get to Carnegie Hall without much practice


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A Few Random Photos

April 4, 2012

Meryl Streep and me - She sang great at Carnegie Hall last night

Last night was epic. I love performing at the Rainforest concerts. It's a terrific event and I say bravo to Sting and Trudie for another great night. There are always plenty of interesting people at the show, not only the participants but some of the folks who come to hang out. I've been around stars all my life, even before I became a professional musician, but I must admit I was pretty impressed when President Clinton rolled in.

This year's artists were all very good and the show had something for everybody, an opera superstar, fantastic dancing, and Meryl Streep singing very difficult songs that she nailed. Here are just A Few Random Photos.


The one and only Esperanza Spalding and me

Jared Scharff (SNL's guitarist), me and Will Lee (David Letterman's bassist)

Tom Hanks and me at yet another concert - This time his wife Rita Wilson was performing, too

Rita Wilson and me - I had no idea that she sang and she's a friend - You find out something new everyday

My guitar that I traditionally get all the performers to sign, because this exact group will probably never get together again

James Taylor, Meryl Streep, Sir Elton John and Sting about to come out and perform as the characters from The Wizard of Oz

My Rainforest Backstage Pass from 2004 with another signed guitar

My 2010 Rainforest backup guitar


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It's Always Smoking Hot!

April 3, 2012

Trudie, Elton and Meryl working on the Finale

Yesterday was our second day of rehearsals for the Save the Rainforest concert, a fundraiser for Sting's charity. His wife, Trudie Styler, always produces the concerts and they're always wonderful.

These concerts have become a tradition with me, and I always look forward to the interesting mix of performers and songs. I also get all the artists to sign one of my guitars as a memento of the event because the exact same group of performers will never be together on one stage again.

Every year there are great memories and this year is no exception. I mean, how often do you get to see Meryl Streep sing with an orchestra, or Rita Wilson do a duet with Vince Gill?

This year, Elton John and Bruno Mars are rocking the house along with Esperanza Spalding, Jennifer Hudson, James Taylor, Rosanne Cash, Bryn Terfel, a classy dance number by Channing Tatum and of course the multi-talented Sting.

Every year our music director is Narada Michael Walden and our band and choir are pretty much the same lineup. It's Always Smoking Hot!


Sting and Esperanza Spalding

Jennifer Hudson singing the paint off of the walls

The "Strat Cats" playing "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend"

James Taylor with the orchestra

Jennifer, Bryn, Rita and Vince practicing the finale

Bruno Mars at rehearsal

Our horn section


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The Most Talented People I Know

April 2, 2012

The Rainforest guitar section

In two days I'll perform with Sting at Carnegie Hall. Doing his Save the Rainforest benefit concert has become a tradition in my life. Elton John has also done it every year since I've started, save one. James Taylor's been there most years too! I always love connecting with this elite group of musicians that have become another one of my families.

This year some of the guest artists are Bruno Mars, Meryl Streep, Vince Gill, Jennifer Hudson, Channing Tatum, Rosanne Cash and Bryn Terfel. Trudie Styler, Sting's wife and the show's producer, never fails to pull together an eclectic, varied, and interesting troupe of performers.

Sting and Trudie have caring hearts. When I discovered I had been attacked by cancer, the the first people to reach out to me were David Bowie, Sting, Trudie, and our Rainforest Musical Director Narada Michael Walden. Narada and I go way back and he's one of The Most Talented People I Know.


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