It feels safe to say that the last half-century of pop history would sound a lot different without Nile Rodgers.
The 65-year-old songwriter, guitarist, and superproducer behind seminal albums from the likes of Diana Ross, David Bowie, Grace Jones, Madonna, Duran Duran, and Daft Punk made his name as a collaborator, but he’s also helmed his own band of dance-floor warriors, Chic, for more than four decades.
Now, 26 years after the release of the group’s last studio album, the Me-Decade collective has returned with a record fittingly called It’s About Time. Rodgers sat down with EW last month before a series of shows outside London to talk about fame, longevity, and why he’ll always play the hits.
The last Chic record came out in 1992. What was the process of getting to this one in 2018?
Albums to me are the same as films, they tell a complete story. They have a beginning, a middle, and an end. And the basic backstory of every Chic album is that we’re a new band, opening for a big star. So we have to tell you who we are on every song — like, “Gimme a C! We are Chic, C-H-I-C!” or whatever. [laughs]
Listen, I don’t write music to make me a star. I write music so that collectively, we can make people happy. And that collective has been massive since the beginning of my career, so the album started off with a single called “I’ll Be There” that, believe it or not, has every single person that’s ever sung on a Chic song. Because in today’s world I can electronically manipulate things. If you looked at the credits you’d see Luther Vandross, just everybody, on there.