- (Nottingham November 21, 2004) Daryl Easlea worked as a music retailer beginning at Disco's
height in 1979, and ending in the latter part of the 1990's. He has a degree
in American Studies and International History and while getting that he
ran the student radio station. He has been the deputy editor of Record
Collector Magazine, as well as a regular contributor to several of the
UK's top music publications, such as Mojo and Mojo and Q specials. He has
also written for The Guardian newspaper, BBCi and The Encyclopaedia of
Popular Music. He also works as a DJ and at daytime as the head of catalogue
publicity at Universal Music in the UK.
- He is now getting ready for the publishing date of
his book, the CHIC bible, Everybody Dance: CHIC & The Politics Of Disco.'
ChicTribute.com's collaborator Glen Russell has caught up with this multitalented
guy for a chat about that hotly awaited item.
- Glen; Earlier this evening I had a pleasant 30
min. chat on the phone with author Daryl Easlea, just before he was about
to have dinner with some family members.
- Hi Daryl
- Hi Glen
- Now that the book is completed, is there a sense of
relief & pride you feel for the book?
- Yes, I'm delighted it's finished. The date for release
of the book is now Dec. 1.
- What inspired you to write the book? Was it CHIC's
lack of recognition in some quarters?
- Largely, yes. It grew out of a feature I wrote for Mojo
Collections in 2001. The group's anonymity has led writers possibly to
believe that their story isn't interesting. Their invisibility has not
aided their longevity as performers, yet their music remains ubiquitous.
- Arguably the most sampled group/producers of all time,
why do you think it's taken over 20 years for any book to be written since
CHIC, both as a band & as an organisation, disbanded? Is it the "disco's
not serious music" label again?
- Possibly. I really thought it would have happened. I
was delighted it hadn't, 'cos I could do it!
- What would you hope to achieve writing the book?
- That it reopens discussions on the group's merits and
- Would you describe the book as definitive of the Chic
- It's certainly close to it. The book is really the story
of CHIC against the backdrop of disco. If you want an exhaustive critique
of the entire disco movement, please look at other books such as "Last
Night A DJ Saved My Life" or Love Saves The Day."
- How personal is the book?
- It's from the heart. I always aim to write with the appropriate
balance of fact and passion.
- Anyone who read your obituary on original CHIC drummer,
Tony Thompson, in the Guardian would've been able to tell you were a fan.
When did you realise you were a fan?
- From early 1979, when I first heard I
Want Your Love. The previous singles to my 13-year old ears had been
good, but that was the one that had the je ne sais quoi.
- Do you have a favourite Rodgers & Edwards track/album?
- Well, what a question! Risqué is the most consistent
album. You Can't Do It Alone;
When You Love Someone and
Flashback are pretty special,
but if one track had to be on the desert island with me, it would be At Last I Am Free.
- Musicians & knowledgeable music fans have acknowledged
the CHIC rhythm section. Do you fear it may turn out like the The Funk
Brothers that people may not remember their musical prowess as much as
their production values?
- I think the musical prowess is subconsciously acknowledged
every time those records are heard.
- Did you meet much resistance? Was everybody you came
into contact with helpful?
- Virtually everyone was lovely and giving of his or her
time. The only constraint was often the lack of time.
- Karen Milne gave access to her date book & still
plays at The Power Station as an in demand session player. I think it's
now known as Vista Studios. She can still recall some of the original fixtures
& fittings at the Power Station. She can see Bernard leaning over with
Sister Sledge & Tony & Nile laughing in another part of the studio.
- Nile & 'Nard were so prolific they had their own
room at the Power Station. A memory of Tony Thompson's was that Jon Bon
Jovi used to do odd jobs at the studio, as it was owned by his cousin and
was on nodding terms with the members of CHIC.
- Were you able to track down any backroom engineers
who may've worked with Rodgers & Edwards such as Jason Corsaro?
- I nearly hooked up with Jason; spoke with Bob Clearmountain,
but couldn't get time to hook up for interview; there are recorded quotes
- We talked a little about the latest cover tune
of a CHIC song
- There's the theme tune to "Ant & Dec's Saturday
Night Takeaway " TV show, I can't remember the name of it (Weekend
by Michael Gray), but it's going to be a huge hit, not a no. 1 as Band
Aid 20 will be #1. Did you know the original "Saturday"
was one of the first songs they shared a co-writing credit with someone
else? His name was Bobby Cotter who was the original vocalist of The Big
Apple Band. They were also known as the "Boys" and they would
open their shows with a cover of Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In
- What may appear in the book that might surprise even
the most knowledgeable fan?
- Nile's early years and the twists and turns that led
to CHIC. The definite link between the name 'CHIC' and Kiss.
- Is Johnny Mathis the "lost" album featured
in the book?
- Yes, but there's another lost album out there too. They
cut an album with Fonzi Thornton which was never released as they couldn't
get an appropriate deal. "I
Work For A Livin'" is probably the only track to survive from
those sessions. I think some ideas resurfaced on the "Leader"
album on the two tracks featuring Nile & 'Nard.
- Do you have any ideas for us fans, to proceed regarding
getting the Johnny Mathis album released?
- I think it's highly unlikely that the album will be released
in its original format, but then, stranger things certainly have happened.
- What other publications will be reviewing the book?
- Record Collector are running an extract. Mojo & Uncut
magazine will be running reviews, possibly Q magazine too; hopefully, it
will be all over the place!
- Was there anything you weren't able to put in the
book due to time constraints/lack of space?
- It really could have gone on forever. I had to put a
cap on it somewhere!
- Will there be a revised edition in the future?
- You never know, it's a never-ending story!
- Thanks for your time Daryl, it's been great talking
- Thanks to you & pocat for help with source material
& interviews from the ChicTribute website. It's a very good & informative
site, a credit to pocat, and thanks also for all the support you've both
- So guys, if you're not having a complete nervous breakdown
or developing ticks in anticipation of laying your hands on this, for sure,
great book about our favorite band, then just read the below extract from
the book and you'll probably have to be committed.
- Excerpted from Everybody Dance -CHIC- And The Politics Of Disco
by Daryl Easlea. Copyright
© 2004. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved:
- . . . As 1981 dawned, there was little sign of The Chic
Organization's workload flagging. There were often short-notice calls placed
to the players to come and record. 'We kind of knew beforehand if we were
going to be doing a single or an album, with Johnny Mathis or Sister Sledge,'
Raymond Jones remembers. 'We did 10 albums, played on a 100 songs in such
a remarkably short space of time a glut, you could say.' There were
also two aborted projects around this time that have passed into Chic's
history. One, the Johnny Mathis album, I Love My Lady, happened. The other,
a proposed album with Aretha Franklin, most certainly did not.
- 'I know that there were several stages when Aretha's
career was not going as well as she liked and she was thinking of changing
producers,' Ahmet Ertegun recalls. The turn of the 80s was one of them.
As Chic were white-hot, they were considered to oversee a change in direction
for the Queen Of Soul. 'We never wrote anything for her,' Rodgers remembered.
'We had one meeting with her and we were so turned off, we couldn't believe
that Aretha wanted to do disco. Bernard and I were sitting in the Queen
Of Soul's house, this beautiful mansion in Los Angeles and she was singing,
"I'm going to be the only star tonight down at the disco." And
Bernard and I were looking at each other in disbelief, thinking "holy
shit! We're with Aretha Franklin and she's telling us she's going to be
the only star in the disco tonight. Is she nuts?" We were stunned
and dumbfounded. We were sitting at the piano with her and we couldn't
say anything. If we told her that was great, she would say "are you
kidding me, you want me to sing some shit like this?" We didn't know
if it's a joke.'
- It did not take them long to decide against the venture.
'We were not going to go down in history as the producers of Aretha Franklin's
disco record! In the end, she went with Van McCoy we were shocked
he would do it but then, he did write "Do The Hustle" which
IS a disco record. I thought of her history and we certainly weren't going
to produce her. That was the only time that we ever met her.' However,
the Johnny Mathis project, recorded at The Power Station in February 1981,
remains one of the great lost Chic moments. In 1980, his management contacted
Rodgers and Edwards to produce what was to become I Love My Lady.
- Johnny Mathis was a serious player. Since he made his
recording debut in 1955, only Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra have had
more hit albums in America; he has performed for presidents and dignitaries
the world over. In 1958, his fourth album, Johnny's Greatest Hits, became
the first record ever to be called 'Greatest Hits' and spent an unbroken
49 weeks on the American chart. He began to take off in Britain, too. He
enjoyed his first Top 10 hit in September 1956 with 'A Certain Smile',
quickly followed by the enchanting 'Someone', which reached No. 6 the following
summer. 'Misty', for many his signature tune, was a transatlantic hit in
- By the 70s, Mathis had become known as much for his golfing
as for his music. Looking to the success of Thom Bell and Linda Creed's
work with The Stylistics, Mathis covered this material and found the soft
soul vibe most suitable for his audience. His version of 'I'm Stone In
Love With You', a Top 10 hit for The Stylistics in 1972, took him back
to the higher reaches of the UK charts in January 1975. However, Mathis
wanted to take a new turn; he wanted to move in a more soulful R&B
direction. Duetting with former Stevie Wonder vocalist and 'Free' hit maker
Denise Williams gave Mathis his greatest US success since 1963: 'Too Much,
Too Little, Too Late' hit the No. 1 spot in both the pop and the R&B
charts in April 1978. It was the first duet either singer had recorded.
It climbed to the UK Top 3 as well, and led to a Top 20 album, That's What
Friends Are For.
- Being impressed with the success of the Diana Ross album,
Rodgers and Edwards seemed a natural choice to bring some of their magic
to Mathis' mix. 'We completed an album with Johnny that was actually great,'
Rodgers recalls. 'He had been this big superstar, and then his light dimmed
a little, and then he came back after that massive record with Denise Williams.
His popularity rekindled, he went on this reckless tear partying
and hanging out; it really frightened the people who were closest to him.
When we did this record, it was totally exciting and youth-oriented. All
his people went "oh my god". At the time I was offended but,
in retrospect, I can see that they did a good thing. It'll never see the
light of day, it's buried somewhere in the Sony archive.' Columbia (who
were to become Sony) felt that whereas it was possible to move Diana Ross
down toward the street, Mathis was still too identified with his predominately
white, middle-aged audience. It was important that the African-American
was not brought out in him. Chic had identified this 'reckless tear' in
him, and by using their powers of observational writing, emphasised it.
- Fonzi Thornton did the guide vocals for the album, which
was to contain eight tracks; 'I Love My Lady', 'I Want To Fall In Love',
'It's All Right To Love Me', 'Judy', 'Love And Be Loved', 'Sing', 'Take
Me' and 'Go With The Flow'. It contained all of the key players of the
Organization, and it was to be the last time that they were together on
record. Mathis himself was an eager participant in the sessions . . .