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Today’s pop music—genre-crossing, gender-bending, racially mixed, visually stylish, and dominated by dance music with global appeal—is the world that Nile Rodgers created. In the 1970s and 1980s, he wrote and produced the songs that defined that era and everything that came after: “Le Freak,” “Good Times,” “We Are Family,” “Like a Virgin,” “Modern Love,” “I’m Coming Out,” “The Reflex,” “Rapper’s Delight.” Aside from his own band, Chic, he worked with everyone from Diana Ross and Madonna to David Bowie and Duran Duran (not to mention Mick Jagger, Debbie Harry, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, Prince, Rod Stewart, Robert Plant, Depeche Mode, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, Grace Jones, Bryan Ferry, INXS, and the B-52’s), transforming their music, selling millions of records, and redefining what a pop song could be.
But before he reinvented pop music, Nile Rodgers invented himself. He was born into a mixed-race, bicoastal family of dope-fiend bohemians who taught him everything he needed to know about love, loss, fashion, art, music, and the subversive power of underground culture. The stars of the scene were his glamorous teenage mom and heroin-addicted Jewish stepfather, but there were also monkeys, voodoo orishas, jazz cats, and serial killers in the mix. By the time he was sixteen, Nile was on his own, busking through the sixties, half-hippie and half–Black Panther. He jammed with Jimi Hendrix, rocked out at Max’s Kansas City, toured with Big Bird on Sesame Street’s road show, and played in the legendary Apollo Theater house band behind history’s greatest soul singers. And then one night, he discovered disco.
During pop’s most glamorous and decadent age, Nile Rodgers wrote the biggest records and lived behind the velvet rope—whether he was holding court in the bathroom stalls at Studio 54, club hopping with Madonna, or scarfing down White Castle burgers with Diana Ross. Le Freak is the fascinating inside story of pop and its tangled roots, narrated by the man who absorbed everything in his topsy-turvy life—the pain and euphoria and fear and love—and turned it into some of the most sparklingly ebullient pop music ever recorded. Nile Rodgers is a brilliant storyteller who gives readers the surprising behind-the-scenes tales of the songs we all know, and lovingly re-creates the lost outsider subcultures—from the backstreets of 1950s Greenwich Village to the hills of 1960s Southern California to the demimonde of New York’s 1970s and 1980s discos and clubs—that live on in his music and in the throbbing, thriving world of pop he helped to set in motion.
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About Nile Rodgers
Nile Rodgers is an American musician, composer, arranger, and guitarist, and is considered one of the most influential music producers in the history of popular music. His recordings have sold in excess of 100 million copies.
“This book is an absolute knockout: exhilarating, warm, and courageous, deeply moving and deeply funny. Le Freak is as much about the greatness of life as it is about Nile Rodgers’s extraordinary musical journey. As Rodgers well knows, the best music is the stuff we feel, the stuff that speaks to us and won’t let go. Le Freak does all that and much more. This is truly one of the best books ever written about art, music, life, and the way we grow to be exactly who we are. Actually, one of the best books period.”
“Nile Rodgers taught me the meaning of CHIC at a very young age. His rollicking life story-from an outrageous childhood straight out of Pulp Fiction through his rise to create some of the biggest hits of our time-is an addictive read. All told in inimitable Nile-style with humanity and humor. The story behind the music is nothing compared to the story behind Nile Rodgers. The music industry finally has its own ‘The Kid Stays in the Picture!’”
-Darren Starr, Creator of “Sex and the City”
The Rock Days of Disco
The New York Times Book Review – December 2, 2011 (Excerpt)
Although Nile Rodgers makes the grade as a B-list celebrity, he isn’t as famous as the musical record warrants. A longtime co-leader of the so-called disco band Chic, he’s best known for the bass line his partner Bernard Edwards devised for the monster single “Good Times,” which later drove the seminal “Rapper’s Delight” and several lesser records. But many A-listers have capitalized on his talents and quite a few valued his friendship. And as this eventful and engaging autobiography emphasizes, that was how he and Edwards planned it. Chic cultivated anonymity. They saw their way to success as an “opening act.”
In fact, one of the surprise gifts of “Le Freak” is that a third of it covers Rodgers’s own opening act — a coming-of-age tale every bit as impressive as the musical insights and star-time chronicles that follow. Born to a hip 14-year-old beauty in 1952, Rodgers was raised among bohemians, criminals and drug addicts in Lower Manhattan, the Bronx and Los Angeles by his African-American mother, his white Jewish stepfather and both biological grandmothers. His sporadic relationship with his biological father, an addict first and a musician second who died before reaching 40, also made its mark.
Most of these people were highly intelligent, rather unstable, and good at getting by. Rodgers, an up-and-down student schooled more usefully by television and movies, could get by on several instruments before he taught himself guitar from clarinet études he had lying around. At 15 he brushed with such A‑listers as Frank Sinatra while helping a grandmother’s boyfriend clean private jets at Van Nuys Airport. By 1968 he was a street hippie whose professional base was Greenwich Village — a practiced panhandler who slept in crash pads and on the subway. For a while he was a Black Panther. For a while he took up residence in the “Park Avenue pied-à-terre” of the filmmaker-heiress Cinda Firestone. [Read the full article...]
Book One of the Darklife Saga by Ronnie Massey
Two Women Hunting A Rogue Vampire
Vampire Valeria Trumaine must confront old demons and face new possibilities as she struggles to bring a rogue vampire to justice. Her best friend and powerful Sidhe princess, Irulan, joins the hunt. Valeria will find that Irulan’s motives for keeping her safe are not what she thinks. And soon she is faced with an undeniable attraction that makes her question everything she knew about herself. [Read More...]
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