I’m pretty confident when I say I’ve watched almost every episode of TV One’s series Unsung. There may have been a few times when I wasn’t interested in the artist being profiled, but for the most part, I tend to watch each show.
I really appreciate this series because it pays homage to artists whose contributions have been overlooked or overshadowed, and I always find myself pulling up my iTunes library afterwards so I myself can remember these singer’s talents and contribution to music.
This past Wednesday, they aired the story of Nile Rodgers and Chic. I’ll be honest, sometimes (well, a lot of times), I watch this show and learn many new and surprising things. I found Nile Rodger and Chic’s Unsung to be the best one yet because they honestly and truly are unparalleled, uncompromising and unsung.
A founding member of the group Chic, Nile Rodgers, along with the rhythms of his partners — both of whom have passed — Tony Thompson (drummer) and Bernard Edwards (saxophone and bass) created a few of music’s most memorable sounds and songs.
They definitely left their mark in the 80s with Sister Sledge (We Are Family), Diana Ross (Upside Down) and Mick Jagger (She’s the Boss).
I was shocked to learn that Rodgers, Thompson and Edwards had a (big) hand in shaping the direction of Madonna’s career. They are responsible for Like a Virgin. “We wanted it to sound like what the next thing was going to be,” he explains on Unsung. “And we wanted to be the people who determined what that was.
“Like a Virgin was Chic’s last hurrah, and for us to go out on a 21-million seller is sort of pretty cool.”
Danced to Everybody Dance, Good Times, Le Freak or Dance, Dance, Dance? You can thank Chic for getting your butt out on the dance floor.
While disco suffered a fatal blow in the late 1970s (watching the scene of them blowing up disco records at Disco Demolition Night on July 12, 1979, at Comiskey Park in Chicago was quite ridiculous), Chic struggled to reinvent themselves in the new era of 80s rap, R&B and pop music.
While they released a string of albums in the 80s, none of them ever reached the level of success Chic once enjoyed, and the record company released them in 1983.
Nile Rodgers, Tony Thompson and Bernard Edwards however, pressed on.
Edwards and Thompson worked with the group Power Station, while Edwards produced both the groups and lead singer’s Robert Palmer’s album Riptide.
Edwards claims production credits for Rod Stewart and Air Supply, while Thompson joined Led Zeppelin at Live Aid in 1985, and toured with them in London.
Throughout the 80s, Rodgers became the hot, go-to producer, working with David Bowie (Let’s Dance), Duran Duran and INXS, and has been able to maintain a career in the music industry for close to 40 years.
The most recent addition to his resume is Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, which reached the top 10 on the charts, and recently won a Grammy for Record of the Year. “Daft Punk said to me ‘Just pretend we’re back in the 70s. Just do what we did back then.’ ” Rodgers says.