Chic

  • Disco/Funk band formed in 1972 from New York New York. The original lineup was Nile Rodgers (guitar, vocals, songwriting), Bernard Edwards (bass guitar, vocals, songwriting), Tony Thompson (drums), Ray Jones (keyboards), and Norma Jean Wright (lead vocals).
  • Rodgers was a musician working on the Sesame Street stage show in 1970. He met Edwards, who was working at a post office with the mother of Rogers’ girlfriend. Edwards played the bass guitar, and the duo formed a rock band called The Boys in 1972. Later, they became The Big Apple Band, playing at venues throughout NYC and backing a fusion group called New York City. When New York City split up, Rodgers and Edwards wanted to take themselves in a new direction. They briefly considered becoming a new wave group, but quickly turned to disco dance music. In 1977, they recruited drummer Thompson, and Thompson recommended Jones as a keyboardist. Needing a singer, they found Wright, who agreed to join if they allowed her to have a solo career also. They changed the name of the group to Chic because another artist had a hit that credited The Big Apple Band.
  • They made a demo tape of a song called Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah), and they shopped it to record labels. A small label liked it and released it as a single. It quickly became popular at dance clubs and a major label signed them, re-releasing the single nationally. It peaked at #6 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Dance chart, and suddenly Chic became one of the hottest artists in disco.
  • Their debut studio album, the self-titled Chic, was released in 1977. In addition to Dance, Dance, Dance, it included another single, Everybody Dance, which also reached #1 on the Dance chart. Wright left the group to focus on her aspiring solo career, and she was replaced by Alfa Anderson and Luci Martin. The group’s follow-up album, C’est Chic, was released in 1978. It became their most successful album, topping the R&B album chart for 11 weeks. It included their signature hit Le Freak, which topped the Hot 100, selling over 4 million copies. It is a disco standard – in 2018, it was selected by the Library of Congress for the National Recording Registry. The second single from the album was I Want Your Love, which peaked at #7 and drove album sales to over 1 million copies – a rare feat for disco albums.
  • After C’est Chic was released, Rodgers and Edwards wrote and produced the We Are Family album released by Sister Sledge in early 1979. The hit song We Are Family became another disco standard. Later that year, Chic released their third studio album, Risqué. The album became an influential record for developing genres like hip-hop and new wave – Sugarhill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight, the first commercially successful rap song, directly sampled Chic’s Good Times, and Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust stole the bass line from the same song. Good Times went on to top the Hot 100 chart, and the album was their second to be certified platinum. Rolling Stone ranks Risqué at #414 on their list of the Greatest Albums of All Time.
  • In 1980, Rogers and Edwards produced and wrote Diana Ross’ Diana album, which included mega-hits Upside Down and I’m Coming Out. But, by 1980, the anti-disco movement was gaining steam, and the four studio albums released by Chic from 1980 to 1983 failed to be successful. They managed to chart in the top 20 of the R&B chart with singles Rebels Are We and Soup for One, but disco’s demise led to the split up of the group. Rogers and Edwards continued to work as producers, with successful work for David Bowie, Madonna, Duran Duran and others.
  • In 1992, Rogers and Edwards reunited as Chic with new vocalists and musicians. They released an album, Chic-Ism. Three singles were popular on the Billboard Dance chart – Chic Mystique and I’ll Be There both topped the chart, and Your Love reached #3 on the chart. In 1996, Chic was performing a concert in Japan and Edwards fell ill. He made it through the concert, but he died in his hotel room the following day from pneumonia.
  • Rogers continued to tour into the 2000s with new musicians. He had success with collaborations in film scores, with the band Duran Duran, and with the electronic duo Daft Punk. He performed and co-wrote Daft Punk’s 2013 huge hit Get Lucky. In 2018, Chic released an album titled It’s About Time which includes songs that feature Elton John, Lady Gaga and others.
  • Chic was nominated 11 times for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but they have yet to get in. That’s by far the most times an artist has been snubbed. However, Rogers was inducted into the hall in 2017 in the category of “Musical Excellence.” Well deserved. Chic’s funky bass riffs and disco guitar continue to influence pop music today. Chic brought a funkiness to disco that made their music infectious. Here they are performing the oft-stolen Good Times.

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