The passing of David Bowie, on January 10, 2016, did nothing but reaffirm the theory of Nile Rodgers: “Let’s dance is cursed.” These surprising statements by the legendary musician, a few days after the death of the White Duke, were not caused by the shock of the moment. He had been thinking about it for a long time and had reflected it in his 2011 autobiographical book. At the same time, the co-founder of ChicHe also believes that Let’s dance changed his life … and for the better.
In 1982, David Bowie replaced Tony Viscoti with Nile Rodgers to take over part of the production of his new album. He wanted more enthusiasm and optimism in his music, and the man who helped him through that transition was the disco pioneer in the 70’s. The two geniuses had met at a club in New York and after a long chat they realized how much they had in common.
Nile says that one day Bowie showed him a photograph of Little Richard dressed in a red suit as he got into a shiny red Cadillac, and said, “Nile, darling, this is how I want my album to sound.” Modern love, China girl o Let’s dance were some of Rodgers’ productions for Bowie’s best-selling album of his career.
The curse theory
However, Nile Rodgers feels that it is a cursed record. He had already written it in 2011, in his memoir Freak: An uside down story of family, disco and destiny. “In my autobiography I talk about the curse of Let’s dance“, declared the New York musician to the British newspaper The Metro, a week after Bowie’s death.
This theory of Rodgers, supposedly was corroborated after the death of the legendary singer. His death was added to that of some of the relevant musicians who had participated in the recording sessions of Let’s dance: Tony Thompson, Stevie Ray Vaughan y Bernard Edwars (co-líder de Chic).
David Bowie, along with Otis Blackwell and Nile Rogers, at an awards ceremony in 1983. / Walter McBride/Corbis via Getty Images
Stevie Ray Vaughan, lead guitarist on Bowie’s album, passed away in August 1990. The virtuoso Texan blues guitarist died in a plane crash at age 35. Bowie had discovered him at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland in 1982. After his performance, he was very impressed: “He has completely blown me away. I probably hadn’t been so enthusiastic about a guitarist since I saw Jeff Beck with his band”. His participation in Let’s dance was a springboard for his career.
Bernard Edwars, Chic’s co-founder with Nile Rodgers, was also one of the musicians who participated in the recording sessions. Considered one of the best bassists of all time, he died in 1996 in Tokyo, after a Chic concert in the Japanese capital. He was 43 years old.
Tony Thompson (Power Station, Chic) handled the drums on Bowie’s 15th album. He died in 2003, as a result of kidney cancer, at the age of 48.
Nile Rodgers: “Let’s dance changed my life”
Damn it or not, the truth is that Let’s dance changed Nile Rodgers’ life. This was stated in the magazine Time in January 2016: “Working at Let’s dance was probably the best experience of my life, because it totally changed it. It was a few weeks after my label had fired me … Chic had split up, I had had six failed records in a row. At that point in my career, I had gotten used to having successful recordings. I couldn’t understand that six consecutive albums, all of them, had failed. David and I formed a team. We were both in front of the world. I never felt more loved; never I felt like a person trusted me so much. I did Let’s dance in 17 days, from start to finish. “
Rodgers doesn’t recall giving Bowie his phone number that night he met him at a New York club. But he must have done it because he called him at home, and he did it “at that moment in my life when I was ‘persona non grata’. When no one had worked with me because disco music had languished, this guy, who was considered one of the greatest and most innovative in rock, chose me. Nobody wanted to work with me, nobody wanted to collaborate with me. We made the best album of his career: Let’s dance ”.
Nile Rodgers (left) and Lady Gaga, during the David Bowie tribute at the 2016 Grammys. / Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
And without a doubt, for Nile there was a before and after that production: “After Last dance, every album I made was a success. I produced INXS, Duran Duran (The reflex, the best album of his career), then Madonna’s Like a Virgin. David Bowie changed my life. “