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Why Nile Rodgers rejected producing an album for The Rolling Stones

Nile Rodgers remains one of the most sought-after producers in music, and in his earlier days, he was undoubtedly pickier about the projects he took on compared with today. The Chic founder even rejected the opportunity to produce an album for The Rolling Stones despite Mick Jagger personally asking him.

Rodgers first formed the group after meeting bassist Bernard Edwards in 1970, and they went on to perform The Big Apple Band, but success evaded them. During their tenure, they kept busy, and he got his first taste of touring. It took several years for them to form Chic, and when the duo first tried to start a funk-rock group, they were told by record labels it would be almost impossible to market them because they are Black.

The executives were instantly proved wrong when Chic became an international sensation in 1977, and Rodgers proved himself to be a hit factory. Hits like ‘Le Freak’ and ‘Everybody Dance’ took them to the top of the ladder, and everybody wanted a piece of Rodgers.

Their label, Atlantic, was so pleased with Chic’s success that they told the duo they could produce for any artist on their roster. The Rolling Stones weren’t signed to the label, but they still contacted Rodgers and tried to persuade him to work with them, but he wasn’t interested, and they chose to make We Are Family for Sister Sledge instead.

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“As a matter of fact, [Jagger] wanted me to produce the Stones,” Rodgers explained to UNCUT in 2015. “That would’ve been interesting because the Stones were the first superstar act that was offered to us, and instead we did Sister Sledge.”

Rodgers continued: “Bernard [Edwards] and I knew it would’ve been a bad move to work with the Stones. How do you tell The Rolling Stones, ‘Right, we’re going to write all your songs and then you come in and you play like this’?”

If Rodgers and Edwards had accepted the invitation to work with The Stones, it could have been a masterpiece which changed the course of Chic’s career. However, there was also an incredible level of risk attached to the project, and if it was a disaster, the blame would be directed at the duo, which could have killed them as producers.

Although working with Sister Sledge wasn’t the sexy choice, it was the right decision, and Chic didn’t compromise while in the studio, whereas they likely wouldn’t have had that luxury with The Rolling Stones.

While Rodgers has never worked with The Stones, he eventually teamed up with Jagger on his 1985 solo album, She’s The Boss and provided production on three tracks. By this time, he’d established himself as an elite producer, and additionally, there wasn’t the pressure that comes with working with The Rolling Stones.