Article by Larry Flick in Billboard Magazine, 5/4/96, Vol. 108 Issue 18, p12


NEW YORK--Producer/musician Bernard Edwards, a founding member of famed disco band Chic, died as a result of pneumonia April 18 in Tokyo. He was 43 years old.
Edwards and longtime associate Nile Rodgers were in Japan participating in "J.T. Super Producers '96," a concert series sponsored by Japan Tobacco that teamed Edwards onstage with such artists as Steve Winwood, Sister Sledge, Slash of Guns N' Roses, and Duran Duran's Simon LeBon. Edwards' spokesman David Millman says that Edwards told friends earlier in the day that he felt ill, but that he had no history of major health problems. He was discovered dead in his hotel room later that evening by Rodgers.
At press time, Edwards' body was being shipped back to the States for burial, though specific funeral or memorial plans had not been confirmed yet.
Shortly before his passing, Edwards completed producing and performing on the new Power Station album and was preparing for a concert tour with bandmates Robert Palmer, Tony Thompson, and Andy Taylor following the album's planned summer release on EMI-Capitol.
Thompson, who was also a member of the original Chic lineup, described Edwards as "my best friend, my mentor, and one of the greatest people I've ever known."
Born in Greenville, N.C., Edwards' musical career took flight when he moved to New York during the early '70s and met Rodgers through a mutual friend. At the time of their meeting, Rodgers had been working as an in-house guitarist at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, N.Y. Quickly bonding as friends, the two jammed together in a variety of funk, R&B, and disco groups before forming their own band, Big Apple, with Thompson. That outfit's it's name was soon changed to Chic in order to avoid confusion with another disco band, Walter Murphy & the Big Apple Band.
With the addition of singers Norma Jean Wright and Luci Martin, the Chic sound--a unique blend of jangly funk guitars with smooth, muscular rhythms and sleek soul harmonies that remains among the most emulated sounds in contemporary pop music--took shape, and the act landed a recording deal with Atlantic in 1977.
The hits started to roll that same year with the release of the act's self-titled debut album, which spawned a radio and club smash with "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)." "Everybody Dance," "Le Freak," and "Good Times" were among the hits that followed between 1978 and 1982. In 1980, "Good Times" was used as the instrumental foundation for one of rap music's first mainstream hits, "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugar Hill Gang.
Following the disbanding of Chic in 1982, Edwards embarked on a highly successful production career. Among his more noteworthy album credits were Palmer's "Riptide" and Rod Stewart's "Out Of Order." With Rodgers, he co-produced the Diana Ross classics "Upside Down" and "I'm Coming Out," as well as the Sister Sledge chestnuts "We Are Family" and "He's The Greatest Dancer."
In 1992, Edwards and Rodgers reassembled Chic to record "Chic-ism," which revisited the band's vintage sound while also exploring more timely club trends.
In pondering Edwards' legacy, longtime friend Frankie Crocker, PD at WBLS New York, sums it up simply as "a life so young, a talent so large, and a goodbye too soon. The loss is immeasurable."
Edwards is survived by six children from his first marriage.
Assistance in preparing this story was provided by Steve McClure in Tokyo.