We are sad to tell you that long-time Nile Rodgers collaborator David Bowie died yesterday at 69, after a long struggle with cancer.
Nile Rodgers posted this short message: "Dearest David, RIP - Your life changed my life. LOVE FOREVER"
Nile Rodgers gave David Bowie his biggest hit and his most successful album, with "Let's Dance" in 1983, that album was very heavily influenced by the CHIC sound, and in particular the title song.
""That is my most rewarding production to date. Even though it clearly sounds like David Bowie – his voice is so distinctive – when you hear the tracks and the guitars it sounds like a Nile Rodgers recording in the tradition of Chic and Sister Sledge...(Nile Rodgers, Guitar Techniques, 2007)"
Nile tells the story of how important Bowie was to his own career:
"The Bowie I knew was a man who saw the world in the most unique way. Bowie would see the world we saw, and then he would see another world. The way he would describe something to me was in a visual way, even though we were interpreting it through music. “The Picasso of Rock ’N’ Roll” – that’s how I always referred to him. Any time I’d have to introduce him, I would call him that, and he would get a little flustered, because he thinks a great deal of Pablo Picasso, as do I. But I think that way of David Bowie – that’s how extraordinary he was. And at the time in my life that I was persona non grata, when no one would work with me because of “Disco Sucks,” this guy, who was considered one of the great, innovative rockers, picked a disco guy, who nobody wanted to work with, to collaborate with, and we wound up making the biggest record of his career, Let’s Dance." (read more here GO!)
The CHIC Strings luminary Karen Milne shared these memories, one from Bowie's Serious Moonlight Tour (following the release of the Let's Dance album). Tony Thompson, CHIC's drummer, was Bowie's drummer on that tour and Karen was Tony's girlfriend, the other more than ten years later:
"I remember the first time I ever heard David Bowie’s music because I was naked! Big time! It was in the most romantic, amazing, hippy situation you can think of – I was playing in a club in Miami Beach and they used to have a nude beach there, so this girl who was the night club’s photographer said: “Let’s spend the night on the beach naked and listen to David Bowie!” I had no idea who he was but we listened to Ziggy Stardust and it was just incredible." (Read more here: GO!)
"As an original violinist with the group CHIC, and girlfriend of Tony Thompson, CHIC's drummer. I was privileged to be in the background during the recording of 'Let's Dance', which Tony played on, as well as tagging along on various legs of 'The Serious Moonlight Tour'. One funny memory is of Tony and I waiting outside of David's hotel room in Paris...he's walking down the hall towards us. As he approaches the room Tony picks up David as if he were a plank of wood and tucks him under his arm. David, giggling, while under Tony's arm, unlocks the door and we enter ....and had a lovely evening chatting and drinking wine. More than ten years later I met David again while I was performing with the Brooklyn Philharmonic during rehearsals and performance of The Low Symphony. He was with Iman at a rehearsal, sitting in the house...and he actually remembered me..I was amazed and thrilled! During the final bow on stage after the performance he turned and threw me the most amazing smile. He was kind, he was compassionate, funny as hell....and treated everyone with respect and compassion. He was, and will always be, a true Renaissance man...gifted in all the ways that truly matter."
Nile Rodgers wrote a memorial piece published in the Guardian on Monday:
In a comment to Billboard Magazine Nile Rodgers said this:
"Because I've had my own fight with cancer for five years now, and even if I had a scintilla of a clue [about Bowie's battle with cancer], I'd be there for him in a minute."
"I've lost a lot of friends. From Stevie Ray Vaughan to Bernard Edwards to Tony Thompson to now David Bowie… I just feel like they're waiting for me to call… they're waiting on me to call on the next project. Does that sound crazy?
Even when I'm not with a person, I still feel like we're just in limbo. If I were to talk about Stevie Ray Vaughan, I'd talk in the present tense. When I talk about Bernard Edwards, I say, "Yeah, you know what we always do? We're always laughing every time we do a session."" (Read more here: GO!)RIP David Bowie, we CHIC fans thank you for the gift of your music, and also in particular for your collaboration with the CHIC gang; Nile Rodgers, Tony Thompson, Bernard Edwards, Rob Sabino, Richard Hilton et al, and also, previously, with Luther Vandross.
-Nile Rodgers talk about working with David Bowie on the BBC3 program "Bowie's Millions" (2003) GO!
-Nile Rodgers play "Let's Dance" on a French TV program in 2003 GO!
-Nile Rodgers talks about the loss of David Bowie on CNN GO!