“I never made music to get awards,” said Chic co-founder Nile Rodgers during a Q&A with Grammy Museum executive director Scott Goldman on Jan. 27 at Cipriani in downtown New York City. “I do this because I really love it. I’ll do this until I can’t do it anymore.”
The three-time Grammy winner and his band Chic also played a mid-day set one day ahead of the music industry’s biggest annual event, taking place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 28. During the 13-song performance, Rodgers reminded the crowd that he was diagnosed with “an aggressive form of [prostate] cancer seven years ago” and is “cancer free.”
The 65-year-old guitarist looked spry, cranking out his rhythmic licks on hits like “Good Times,” “Le Freak,” “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” and “I Want Your Love.” The nine-member band featured two female singers (Kimberly Davis and Folami), two keyboardists and two horn players. Band co-founder and bassist Bernard Edwards passed away in 1996.
The group followed with a medley of non-Chic songs produced and/or written by Rodgers: Diana Ross’ “Upside Down” and “I’m Coming Out”; Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” and “He’s the Greatest Dancer”; Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”; David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”; and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” which earned Rodgers two of his three Grammy awards (the other was for Daft Punk’s 2014 Album of the Year, Random Access Memory).
Of Bowie, Rodgers exclaimed earlier, “He was the Picasso of rock and roll. David was so artistic. He had a weird way of looking at music. I was able to translate that into music.” Rodgers produced Bowe’s bestselling album ever, 1983’s “Let’s Dance.”
About Chic, he noted: “We’re the Grateful Dead of dance music. We’re not just a singles band. We’re live. We don’t have click tracks or dancers. We invite the audience to be part of the show. That’s how we did it at Studio 54.”
Indeed, the Cipriani show ended as fans danced on stage to the Chic’s biggest hit, “Good Times,” which famously was restyled as “Rapper’s Delight” by Sugarhill Gang just months after topping the charts in 1979.
Rodgers is clearly not done with creating music. He announced that “It’s About Time,” Chic’s first album in 25 years, will be released in 2018.
Bulova sponsored the luncheon and presented Rodgers with a limited-edition timepiece during the event.