Bowie Today: Nile Rodgers on Ignoring Music Legends


Nile Rodgers, guitarist of Chic and historic collaborator of Bowie in the ’80s, spoke of the difficulties that even a music giant like the English artist would find today.

The two famously collaborated on “Let’s Dance”, an album that strongly marked Bowie’s return to popularity in the ’80s, but Rodgers says he is certain that in the current record market, even a genius of Bowie’s caliber would have struggled to establish himself.

The comment came during a speech at the House Of Commons in London to talk about digital music.

David Bowie and Nile Rodgers

David Bowie is, without a doubt, one of the most transversal artists to have ever graced the world of rock. Rock and transgressive, pop and innovative, excessive but intelligent, a meeting of a thousand souls that allowed Bowie to be loved for entire generations, regardless of background.

In this sense, part of the credit for the popularity achieved in the ’80s can also be attributed to Nile Rodgers, guitarist of Chic, the ‘mastermind of funk’ who for a period was the Thin White Duke’s right-hand man.

One name above all: ‘Let’s Dance’, a song with which Bowie managed to embrace practically any representative of the world audience. ‘I want to make hits,’ Bowie told Rodgers when the two met in a club in New York, and hit it was.

Titletrack of the album of the same name released in 1983, ‘Let’s Dance’ became Bowie’s first single to hit the top of the charts in both the United Kingdom and the United States.

Bowie’s effort

Forty years later, Nile Rodgers spoke at the House Of Commons in the British Parliament about the music industry today and the impact of streaming and digital music services.

A world, that of digital music, which the guitarist and producer applauded for its ability to easily reach potential users all over the world but which, at the same time, he criticized for the issue of negligible payments to artists.

“Things have changed and not for the better,” Rodgers began. “I’m 71 years old and I’ve been doing this job for 50. I thought that, after all these years, with the advent of new technologies, people like me would have a simpler life, we could all benefit from it and this was not the case. It’s all deeply wrong.”

The discussion, says Rodgers, is not limited only to strictly economic issues but impacts on the desire to allow young artists to grow at the right times.

To achieve success, it can’t be enough to just aim for a viral hit and even the greatest artists in history have had to fight, fall and get back up, something that is no longer allowed today.

A clear example is Bowie himself who, from a commercial point of view, between the end of the 70s and the beginning of the 80s was in a complicated position, swept away by the global success of “Let’s Dance”.

“The label gave him all the time and opportunity to look for a hit. He called me and we did Let’s Dance”, said the producer. “Back then the label took it upon itself to take a risk on the artists he really believed in, until the hit came along. Those days are over.”

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