Chic: Good Times And Freak Out (Le Freak)
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This unique and very talented band was formed in 1976 by guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards. The American Disco and R&B Band had major hits in the disco era including, "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)" (1977), "Everybody Dance" (1977), I Want Your Love (1978), Le Freak (1978), Good Times (1979) and many many more.
Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards met in 1970. They were already musicians working in the New York circuit. They together formed a couple of rock bands early on named "The Boys" and "The Big Apple Band" that would play various gigs in New York City. Despite their god given talents, they had yet to land a record deal. Based on the fact that most people back then in the music industry did not believe that they could sale a rock album because they were an all black group.
"CHIC" Band Info
- Bernard Edwards - vocals, bass
- Nile Rodgers - guitar
- Tony Thompson - drums
- Alfa Anderson, Luci Martin - lead vocals
The Chic Strings:
- Valerie Haywood
- Cheryl Hong
- Karen Karlsrud
- Karen Milne
- Gene Orloff
- Vocals - Fonzi Thornton, Michele Cobbs, Ullanda McCullough, Luther Vandross, Jocelyn Brown
- Keyboards- Raymond Jones, Robert Sabino, Andy Schwartz (aka Andrew Barrett)
- Percussion - Sammy Figueroa
- Tap dance - Sammy Warren
Chic Disco Music: The Beginning Of The Bands Transition To Disco Fame
In 1977 the band formed a couple of versatile groups that helped them to complete the voids in their own band. They later added Drummer Tony Thompson and lead singer Norma Jean Wright to complete the circle. Using a young up and coming recording engineer Bob Clearmountain, they recorded a demo and went out on the road as "CHIC" for the first time as a support act.
After signing to Atlantic Records, they released the self-titled debut album "CHIC" which was also an extension of their demo that landed them the deal. But Edwards and Rogers did not think that the album showed the real aspect of the bands talent and they suggested adding another female singer to the band. Norma Wright suggested her friend Luci Martin, who became a member in early spring of 1978.
Soon after the sessions ended for the debut album, Chic immediately began work on Wright's solo album titled "Norma Jean" released in 1978. That album also was a hit with her disco driven song "Saturday". Unfortunately after the release, legalities forced Norma to disband from the group but not before she took part in the production of Sister Sledge's "We Are Family". She was then replaced by backup singer, Alfa Anderson who had did a lot of backup vocals for the first album.
For the Sister Sledge project, Edwards and Rogers wrote and produced "He's the Greatest Dancer" (originally intended to be a Chic song) in exchange for "I Want Your Love" (originally intended to be performed by Sister Sledge).
Later on in 1978, they released their second album titled, "C'est Chic" which also included one of their biggest hits "Le Freak" which was rumored to have been fueled by a champagne filled session at Edwards studio. The original hook line "Aaa, fuck off" was aimed at the door men of the famous Studio 54 club in New York, but it was later replaced with "Aaa Freak Out" after trying a version with "Aaa, freak off." It became a huge hit in the United States selling over 6 million copies. It was the biggest selling single for Atlantic's parent company, Warner Brothers. The only single to top that was Madonna's "Vogue".
The next year was also a big one for the band when they released their 3rd album, "Risque" which featured the smash hit "Good Times", one of the most important and influential songs of the disco era. That song was sampled and created alot of hits for various artist including, Grand Master Flash , The Sugarhill Gang, Queen and more.
Edwards and Rodgers composed, arranged, performed, and produced many influential disco and R & B albums and songs over the next couple of years including Diana Ross's 1980 album "Diana" , which included the smash hits "I'm Coming Out" and "Upside Down", They also produced the Carly Simon hit "Why" from the soundtrack "Soup For One" and Deborah Harry's debut solo album. They are also responsible for bringing to light some of the most influential talents to ever grace the stage such as Luther Vandross who sang on several of their hit albums.
The Later Years Of Chic When Disco Music Was Fading
In the early 80's, disco was kind of fading off and the band struggled with airplay and record sales because of the new music era of rap and they eventually disbanded. Rodgers and Edwards produced records for a wide variety of artists together and separately. Rodgers co-produced David Bowie's 1983 album "Let's Dance" and is also responsible for the breakthrough success of Madonna's "Like A Virgin" album. Madonna's hit "Holiday" was one of the many songs that sampled the music from the bands hit "Good Times" including Blonde's "Rapture", The Sugarhill Gang's "Rappers Delight" and many more.
In 1989, Rodgers and Edwards organized a reunion of the old band and they wrote new material and spiced up some of the old classics that made their stardom. they also had another album titled "Chic-ism" with a new single "Chic Mystique" that was greatly appreciated all over the world.
In 1996 Rodger's was honored as the Top Producer in the world by Billboard Magazine and he later set out to do some commemorative performances all around the world. Unfortunately his long time musical partner Edwards died of pneumonia at 43 years old on April 18, 1996 while they were on the road. His final performance was recorded and released to the public titled, "Live At The Budokan". The original talented drummer Tony Thompson died of kidney cancer on November 12, 2003, at age 48.
Rodgers and CHIC continue to perform to sold-out venues worldwide with new musicians. They are still well liked and known in the music industry and they have done wonders for a lot of new up and coming artist. They paved the way for everyone that we listen to today.