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Profile: Chic

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Profile: Chic

Chic

disco-disco.com

Claims to fame:

  • Disco's greatest band
  • One of the most consistently popular disco acts of the era
  • Leaders Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers were two of pop music's greatest producers
  • A pioneering all-black group on the New York disco scene
  • Helped start the rap craze when the Sugarhill Gang recreated their "Good Times" groove for the hit "Rapper's Delight"
  • Their stripped-down approach to dance music brought it into the modern age

Facts:

Formed: 1976 (New York, NY)

Styles: Disco, Dance music, Funk

Awards and honors: Dance Music Hall of Fame (2005)

Principal members:

Nile Rodgers (born September 19, 1952 in New York, NY): guitar
Bernard Edwards (born October 31, 1952 in Greenville, SC; died April 18, 1996, Tokyo, Japan): bass
Tony Thompson (born November 15, 1954 in New York, NY; died November 12, 2003, Los Angeles, CA): drums
Alfa Anderson (born September 7, 1946 in New York, NY): vocals
Luci Martin (born January 10, 1955 in New York, NY): vocals

Early years:

Chic had as its foundation two veteran sidemen, budding songwriters and producers both -- Bernard Edwards, who played bass, and Nile Rodgers, who played guitar. Together they formed the backbone of the aptly-named Big Apple Band, which found work as a backup group on the New York dance scene of the early '70s. By 1976, the duo had decided to start their own band to spotlight their increasingly accomplished compositions and productions. Along with drummer Tony Thompson, formerly of Labelle, they drafted two female singers and, changing their name to avoid confusion with Walter Murphy's Big Apple Band, they became Chic.

Success:

Producing a demo of a two-sided single -- "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowzah, Yowzah, Yowzah)" and "Everybody Dance," both mixed by a neophyte Bob Clearmountain -- Chic nevertheless found themselves rejected by every major label. However, an independent named Buddah released the 12 inch, and it became so popular in dance clubs that Atlantic soon signed them to a deal. Edwards and Rodgers' minimalist, funky take on disco proved perfect for the last half of the genre's era, and they soon found themselves in high demand, with Nile and Bernard also finding lots of sidework as producer/songwriters (Sister Sledge, Diana Ross).

Later years:

Unfortunately, the anti-disco backlash soon swept Chic into the bargain bin, but Edwards, Rodgers, and Thompson arguably found even greater success afterwards: Rodgers went on to produce David Bowie's Let's Dance and Madonna's Like A Virgin LPs, while Edwards produced Robert Palmer's Riptide breakthrough and formed the Power Station. (Thompson played drums on all these projects!) The band reunited with its female leads for a mildly successful comeback in 1992; sadly, both Edwards and Thompson have since passed on. Original singer Norma Jean Wright occasionally performs Chic classics live with Anderson and Martin.

Chic on video:

"American Bandstand" (1978), "The Disco Ball" (2003), "Hip-Hop Honors" (2004), "Live in Amsterdam at the Paradisco" (2005)

Other Chic facts and trivia:

  • Chic originally featured Norma Jean Wright as one of their leads on their debut, however, contractual obligations necessitated her replacement by Luci Martin
  • Their smash "Le Freak" was written during a angry jam session after being denied entrance to Studio 54; the chorus "Freak Out" was originally "F--- Off!"
  • Over 60 rap, dance and rock songs use some variation on the "Good Times" bass line
  • Chic often used motifs from the glamorous pre-rock era; "Good Times" was written as a disco update of the anti-Depression standard "Happy Days Are Here Again"
  • "Le Freak" is the biggest-selling single in Atlantic Records history

Covered by:

Robert Wyatt, RuPaul, John Taylor, Wham!, Millionaires, Paul Rutherford, Ali Love, Quentin Elias, James Last, Corn Dollies, Jody Watley

Chic hit singles and albums:

#1 Pop singles:
"Le Freak" (1978)
"Good Times" (1979)

#1 R&B singles:
"Le Freak" (1978)
"Good Times" (1979)

#1 Dance singles:
"Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)" (1977)
"Everybody Dance" (1977)
"Le Freak" (1978)
"I Want Your Love" (1978)
"Chic Mystique" (1992)

Top 10 Pop singles:
"Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)" (1977)
"I Want Your Love" (1978) Top 10 R&B singles:
"Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)" (1977)
"I Want Your Love" (1978)
"Rebels Are We" (1980)

Top 10 Dance singles:
"Good Times" (1978)
"My Forbidden Lover" (1978)
"My Feet Keep Dancing" (1978)
"Your Love" (1992)

Top 10 Adult Contemporary singles:
"I Want Your Love" (1978)

#1 R&B albums:
C'est Chic (1978)

Top 10 Pop albums:
C'est Chic (1978)
Risque (1979)

Top 10 R&B albums:
Risque (1979)
Real People (1980)

Other important songs by Chic: "Strike Up The Band," "Savoir Faire," "Chic Cheer," "At Last I Am Free," "A Warm Summer Night," "Will You Cry (When You Hear This Song)," "Chip Off The Old Block," "Take It Off," "Real People," "Stage Fright," "Soup For One," "Hangin'"

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