Nile Rodgers dishes on life and teases new musical at Joe’s Pub (pics)
Nile Rodgers, the famed record producer, co-founder of CHIC (with Bernard Edwards), Daft Punk collaborator, and soon to be recipient of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Musical Excellence award, hosted two events at Joe's Pub that were less about music performance and more about his musical legacy. (At least, at the second night, Rodgers only performed one song, Sister Sledge's "We Are Family", in entirety). In fact, Rodgers event was almost entirely a teaser for a potential Broadway musical that he has written and is starting to take into workshop. He described the work, "It's not your average, run of the mill jukebox musical because every song that I've ever written in my life actually parallel real life incidents. So you'll see that when you see this show that it goes from a certain period up until the current day."
Throughout Rodgers scripted event (he often noted he was "off script" and running long which would have bumped Toshi Reagon's set later), he shared stories about creating songs for and with artists like Sister Sledge, Diana Ross, David Bowie and Daft Punk, having his work ("Good Time") sampled by Sugarhill Gang on "Rapper's Delight" and his musical relationship with Edwards before and during CHIC (Edwards died in 1996).
A particular highlight was Rodgers story of their attempt to hang out with Grace Jones at Studio 54. Security didn't let them in so they headed to Rodgers apartment on 52nd between 8th and 9th with a couple of bottles of Dom Perignon. Back at home, Rodgers improved the notable riff from what would later become CHIC's "Le Freak" while singing the lyrics, "Ah fuck off. Fuck Studio 54. Fuck off." The audience cheered as part of the classic song was performed but alas, it wasn't enough.
The only true full song came after a brief Q&A, when a kid asked a rather random question about Rodgers verbal SAT score. It turns out that kid was Meliki Hurd, the young actor who would be playing Rodgers in the eventual musical and he prompted Rodgers to end with "We are Family." Photos of the event, including Rodgers with Hurd and some photos of photos of Rodgers with pre-President Trump and former-President Obama, are in the gallery above.