I’m looking forward to Friday night. I have tickets to see music legend and producer extraordinaire, Nile Rodgers performing live with Chic.
Given that I’ve mentioned in recent posts my musical tastes when growing up were decidedly metal-oriented, there’d be more than a few people reading this who’d be having a WTF moment right now, and rightly so. And they’d be having an even bigger WTF moment when they learn that I’ve shelled out extra to attend a pre-show meet and greet with Mr Rodgers on the night.
No one more than I recognises that as we age, our tastes alter, and without having differing levels of peer pressures to contend with, we evolve in many different ways. Music has been one such area for me.
As a child of the 80s, it was like there were two indivisible music camps when I was growing up; disco bunnies then everyone else. No shades of grey. Disco was largely considered to be anything that involved blow-dried hair, guys in make-up, synthesisers and drum machines. ‘The rest’ ranged from INXS, Bruce Springsteen, Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, Queen, the Rolling Stones, Australian Crawl, David Bowie and Bon Jovi through to metal.
Where I grew up had a huge migrant community. Simply put: lots of wogs. And disco and dance music were the sounds of choice for wogs. That, of course, is not to say that there weren’t some wogs into metal, but it’s fair to say that the wog part of school was definitely more inclined towards Madonna, Paul Lekakis, and Patrick Hernandez and co, than it was to Van Halen’s ‘1984’ album, or Def Leppard’s ‘Hysteria’.
Needless to say, it was the wogs who were ankle-deep in elite-class pussy at High School, while the rest of us who weren’t blessed with outstanding athletic prowess, or didn’t peak at age 16, were left to wonder what the secret was to pulling chicks; to which I now know is (probably) not:
A) To refer to kids born in Australia to migrant parents as wogs, and
B) Not to metaphorically shit on the music the vast majority of girls were into at the time.
Many people are familiar with the Chic story arc. If you’re not, it’s easily described as going from the highest of highs (wads of cash and musical independence, as well as Nile ‘holding court’ in the ladies bathroom of Studio 54 in the late 70s and early 80s and yes, that means exactly what you think it does), followed by a tumble to the lowest of lows every bit as spectacular in speed and trajectory as a physics-defying theme park roller-coaster ride. In fact, such was the anti-disco backlash in Regan’s America that the band, as Daryl Easlea says in his 2004 biography of Chic “couldn’t get arrested”.
To this day – for some inexplicable reason – the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is yet to induct either Chic or Nile Rodgers.
Despite being the focal point of an entire cultural phenomenon, despite being an integral cog in the success of legendary acts including Madonna and Duran Duran and despite re-inventing the careers of David Bowie, Diana Ross and the B-52’s, the powers that be at Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and its voters have decreed that Lynard Skynard, the Sex Pistols, Traffic, Steely Dan and Pete Seeger as being worthy of a place in the world of popular music’s pantheon. And that’s laughable.
It’s not entirely the fault of the powers-that-be at Rock’s Hall of Fame. At the time of writing, Chic were yet again nominees for induction. Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald’s George Palathingal in October this year, Nile Rodgers said: “We’re the most nominated group of all time. We’ve been nominated eight times in ten years.” A subsequent opinion poll of SMH readers voted Nirvana as the act “most deserving” of this year’s induction nominees (23%), with KISS next (12%) and Chic and Deep Purple in a tie for third place (11%).
The same case for induction also applies to KISS, but by whatever standard you measure their eligibility, Chic have impacted popular culture just as profoundly as the Sex Pistols, have a body of work comparable to and arguably exceeding that of Lynard Skynard, Steely Dan and Pete Seeger and would be more easily identified with by the general public than Traffic and Seymour Stein.
Regardless, the sold-out show on Friday night will go ahead in front of an adoring crowd. While Bernard Edwards and Tony Thompson have long since passed on, meaning the original Chic line-up lives only in memory, Nile and the present incarnation will belt out the litany of hits from the band’s catalogue. And more than 30 years after their formation, still blow the audience away and be looking for more like a prize-fighter after delivering the knock-out blow.
And I can’t wait.
Any suggestions for questions that I could ask Nile are welcomed in the comments section, because I haven’t got a fucken clue what to ask a man who used to do rails while getting his cock sucked by supermodels in the bathroom of Studio 54 for entree…