It has long been relegated to his subconscious, but the first music Nile Rodgers ever heard was in the rhythm of rubber thumping against the iron grating of the Triborough Bridge. The car was careening across the East River en route to Queens General Hospital, where Nile Rodgers' mother had an appointment to give birth. As usual, Nile was in a hurry, and before the car had touched dry land, the world had one more guitar player. From these beginnings, it is natural that Nile would be the one to bridge the gap between rock/funk and wistful ballroom romanticism. Raised in Greenwich Village and Hollywood, California, he became a member of New World Rising, one of the first electric bands to play New York's Max's Kansas City during the '60s folk craze.

Bernard Edwards was born under slightly less chaotic circumstances in Greenville, North Carolina. He moved to New York at age 10, played reeds at P. S. 164 in Brooklyn, tenor sax in junior high and electric bass at the High School of Performing Arts. By the early '70s, he too, had discovered rock & roll.

Nile and Bernard met through the mother of Nile's then-girlfriend, who worked with Bernard in the Post Office. The two musicians initially differed on their approaches to rock stardom, but as they came to know each other better, found they shared a fondness for febrile power riffs wrapped in a smooth, unpreachy package. After gigging occasionally at small New York clubs, the two joined The Big Apple Band, backing up a group called New York City ("I'm Doing Fine Now"). Nile abandoned a steady job in the Apollo Theatre house band to hit the road with Big Apple, because he liked the idea of being his own boss.

The group toured the U.S. and Europe from 1972 to 1975. When NYC disbanded, Big Apple kept their act intact, recording demos and backing singer Carol Douglas for about six months. With the guidance and support of Rob Drake, a friend and disco dj, Nile and Bernard began laying down dance tracks in early 1977. Drake played the tapes at his club, the Night Owl, and before long, they were generating a loud buzz on the street. In June of 1977, Nile and Bernard renamed their band CHIC (Walter Murphey had appropriated the Big Apple moniker). After opening for the vocal group, Luther, at Radio City in September of that year, CHIC was signed to Atlantic Records.

Their debut single, "DANCE, DANCE, DANCE (YOWSAH, YOWSAH, YOWSAH)," released in September, sped quickly to the top of the pop and R&B charts and attained RIAA gold certification in February, 1978. The 12" DiscoDisc (the first Atlantic commercial 12") was named DiscoDisc Of The Year by Nightfall Magazine. Disco columnist Vince Aletti described "DANCE, DANCE, DANCE" as a song "you'll never get tired of." The group's debut album, "CHIC," was rush-released in November, 1977, and it, too, went gold, spawning at least one more hit single, "EVERYBODY DANCE." CHIC went on tour in early 1978, opening for major acts like The Isleys, The Trammps, and Rufus. In the fall of 1978, as CHIC was finishing up its first mammoth tour with dates in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, a new single, "LE FREAK," hit the U.S. streets. "LE FREAK" eventually became the biggest-selling 45 in the history of the WEA organization, surpassing four million in unit sales. "C'EST CHIC," the LP from which the single was culled, sold more than two million copies in this country. "I WANT YOUR LOVE," the second single off the album, was certified gold. "GOOD TIMES," the first single from CHIC's third Atlantic LP, "RISQUE," was certified gold only three weeks after its release in June, 1979.

Like the two preceding albums, "RISQUÉ" offers something for bedrock R&B/ funk fans as well as for discophiles. Nile and Bernard, who write, arrange, conduct, and produce the music, attribute CHIC's remarkable crossover appeal to their long experience on the road, playing simple, unvarnished rock and soul. For this reason, CHIC's live show counters the belief that dance music will not wash with a sit-down audience.

The present group, in addition to Nile and Bernard, features drummer Tony Thompson, who sports a list of credits including Labelle, Stevie Wonder, and Mongo Santamaria; singer Alfa Anderson, who has backed Ray Barretto, Luther, and Raw Sugar; and singer Luci Martin, a former Alvin Ailey dance student and actress in road companies of "Hair" and "Jesus Christ, Superstar."

The summer of 1979 found CHIC back on the road, piling up gold and platinum here and abroad. Canada recently honored the group for the emergence of "LE FREAK" as the biggest-selling single in the nation's history. The record has reached gold status in Belgium, Italy, South Africa, England, France, Brazil, and most of the rest of the world.

In addition, Nile and Bernard have, as part of the activities of The CHIC Organization Ltd., become involved with other artists. The two produced Sister Sledge's "WE ARE FAMILY" LP and had the satisfaction of watching it sell more than a million copies in America.

The last two whirlwind years have not appreciably changed the personalities of CHIC's creators. Nile and Bernard remain deeply rooted in the past, for it was not that long ago, suggests Nile, that they played in a black punk band, Allah And The KnifeWielding Punks. And Bernard has not forgotten the drudgery of the Post Office. "We've been lucky," he says. Add to that a lot of hard work on the road and in the studio, and a diversity of musical backgrounds, and the result is a band that will sustain no matter what fads come and go. CHIC will always be in.



Get album info on 'Risqué' GO

Watch video clip of 'My Forbidden Lover' GO

Read 'The Art of Being Chic' GO

special fan section courtesy of Glen Russell e-mail:glen@chictribute.com,
by pocat productions, sthlm 2002. e-mail:pocat@chictribute.com