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(Credit: NRK P3)


Nile Rodgers once described David Bowie as "The Picasso of music"

Nile Rodgers has been a familiar figure in the public eye since the dawn of the disco and funk revolution in the 1970s. Along with legendary bassist Bernard Edwards, Rodgers is the co-founder of the New York legends Chic. The band scored a string of commercially successful and iconic disco songs, including the likes of ‘Everybody Dance’, ‘Le Freak’, ‘I Want Your Love’, ‘Good Times’, and many more.

Aided by his slick disco chops, Rodgers has written, produced and performed on albums that have shipped more than 500 million units worldwide. Rodger’s signature Fender Stratocaster tone is so recognisable that even when he’s mixed in with a wide variety of musicians and genres, you know it’s him, a testament to his skill. Additionally, his trusty six-string is dubbed ‘the hitmaker’, a clear reflection of the success he has enjoyed. 

The scope of and quality of works influenced by or featuring Rodgers is enormous. Grandmaster Flash, Blondie, Duran Duran and even Johnny Marr have cited him as an influence. In fact, Blondie’s 1980 US number one hit ‘Rapture’ was a direct tribute to Chic and, later, Debbie Harry’s 1981 solo album, KooKoo, was produced by Rodgers and Edwards, completing the circle. Additionally, French house duo Modjo sampled Rodgers’ guitar from ‘Soup for One’ as the centrepiece of their 2000 classic ‘Lady (Hear Me Tonight)’.

One of the most iconic pieces of work that Rodgers has produced is 1983’s Let’s Dance by David Bowie. Not only is it one of the most enduring works of the decade, but it also ranks among the very best that Bowie and Rodgers ever produced. Featuring ‘Let’s Dance’ and ‘China Girl’, the creative partnership between Bowie and Rodgers was a fruitful one, to say the least. 

During a February 2022 discussion that was posted to David Bowie’s official TikTok account, Rodgers remembered his partnership with the late English musician, showering Bowie with some glittering praise. 

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He said: “David is one of the most incredible people I’ve ever worked with. One of the most altruistic, one of the kindest, one of the funniest, one of the most talented people. I used to call him ‘The Picasso of music’, he was… he just had this very avant-garde way of looking at things, this very interesting way of explaining it to me, and I knew everything that he was saying”.

Rodgers continued: “That kind of connection between an artist and producer is rare, but that’s what you dream of. You dream of working with people like David Bowie that can talk to you in whatever speak they choose but you get it, you get every word of it. You go ‘I got it, Dave. Sit back and relax, coming up in ten minutes'”.

Bowie and Rodgers make a strong claim for being the most potent studio partnership of the ’80s. I know some would argue that it was U2 and Brian Eno, but the quality of Let’s Dance, some 39 years later, remains astounding, reflecting just how great the understanding between Bowie and Rodgers was. Luckily for us, the partnership was resumed for 1993’s Black Tie White Noise, an underrated masterpiece.

Watch Nile Rodgers discuss his partnership with David Bowie below.


“The Picasso of music”. @Nile Rodgers on David Bowie. Check out Bowie’s biggest hits all in one place. #DavidBowie #Bowie #NileRodgers #CHIC #DavidBowieIs

♬ Moonage Daydream (2012 Remaster) – David Bowie

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