Nile Rodgers’ love affair with music began with The Beatles when he was a small child, and since then, his relationship with the band has continued to blossom. While he loves almost everything they ever made together, one song is extremely sentimental to the Chic founder.
Rodgers’ upbringing was tough, but music offered him an escape from the harsh reality of life. His mother was just 14 when she gave birth to him, and she later became addicted to heroin. The musician also began using drugs as a teenager, and if it wasn’t for learning the guitar at 16, Rodgers’ life could have derailed down an even more dangerous path.
He’d already had a classical musical upbringing, and his family were also friends with illustrious figures such as Thelonious Monk, but pop music was unfamiliar territory for Rodgers. However, The Beatles changed everything and their song, ‘A Day In The Life’, taught him the fundamentals of guitar playing.
“When I moved back to New York I took guitar because it was all about folk music and hippie music and protesting and things like that and I was only into classical music as far as performing, I had never played any pop music,” Rodgers explained to Forbes. “I asked my mom to buy me a guitar for my birthday and I love the Beatles so she bought me a Beatles Song Book. I kept trying to play this book and I started out at the beginning so I guess the reason why I learned ‘A Day In The Life,’ it started with the letter A, it was the first song in the book.”
He continued: “People think it’s because I liked it the best, of course I loved the song, but anyway. I was trying to play ‘A Day In The Life’ and I could never get it right and I didn’t understand why because I was quite diligent copying the fingering patterns.”
His mother’s boyfriend then helped him tune the instrument, and after that crucial moment, Rodgers was away and has never looked back since. “As soon as this guy tuned the guitar up, I played what I had been struggling over for the last two to three weeks and right away a beautiful chord rang out and I went, ‘Oh my God'”.
He added: “I felt like the first person walked on the moon, it was the most inspirational moment of my life. At that moment I decided I was not going to be mediocre at all the various instruments in the symphony orchestra that was assigned to me as a child, but I was going to concentrate on one instrument and try and become a virtuoso, and that’s when I decided I was a guitarist.”
Ever since that episode when he sparked up a special relationship with The Beatles, Rodgers has been forever indebted to ‘A Day In The Life’ for being the catalyst for the life he’s carved out for himself with Chic and beyond.