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Chic’s Nile Rodgers: Five Crucial Inspirations

Pop mastermind and Chic leader talks flipping for Hendrix, tripping to the Doors

Rolling Stone Nov 13, 2015
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Nile Rodgers

Nile Rodgers boasts one of the most impressive résumés in pop, having produced David Bowie, Diana Ross and Madonna in his Eighties heyday. Lately, the guitarist and producer has been on a fresh tear, working on a new Chic album ”” which he calls “the most self-indulgent thing I’ve ever done” ”” staging his own all-star festival, and collaborating with everyone from Duran Duran to Keith Urban. Rodgers took time out of his busy schedule to tell us about five songs that changed his life.

Elvis Presley, “Blue Suede Shoes”

My grandmother gave me a pair of blue suede shoes and told me, “Dance for the family!” I liked the song. I loved the shoes.”

The Doors, “The End”

 

It starts out like a fugue, then the tempo goes out of control. I remember taking acid with Dr. Timothy Leary, and this song was all I kept hearing.

The song goes on a journey. The composition felt challenging and rewarding. I practiced it on guitar until it sounded perfect.

Jimi Hendrix, “Castles Made of Sand”

This is the first time I remember hearing backward guitar. I tried to play it: “Whoa, what the hell is that?

I know now that it was put together with edits, which is unbelievable. It’s so seamless. They called it “new directions in jazz,” but it was “new directions in everything.”

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