Category: chic

On this day in music history: December 2, 1978 – “Le Freak” by Chic hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 5 weeks, also hitting #1 on the Hot 100 for 6 weeks (non-consecutive) on December 9, 1978. Written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is the first number one single for the New York City based R&B/Funk band. The song is inspired by an incident when Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, are denied entry into Studio 54 on New Year’s Eve 1977, after being invited by Grace Jones. The duo encounter the discos’ notoriously brash doorman Marc Benecke, who brusquely tells them that they are not on the guest list. Upset at the rebuff, the pair go back to Rodgers apartment around the corner and jam, coming up with the song, which is initially titled “F*** Off”. Realizing that they’re on to something, the lyric is changed, from “f*** off” to “freak out”. Taking into mind the current popular dance “the freak”, they re-title the song “Le Freak”. Released in late September of 1978 as the first single from the bands’ second album “C’est Chic”, it becomes the largest selling single in the history of Atlantic Records, shifting an astounding six million copies in the US alone. The single is such a massive seller, eventually it is taken out of print for a time, with Atlantic and Chic fearing that it will impede on sales of “C’est Chic”, which sells nearly two million copies. “Le Freak” makes further history on the Hot 100 when the record hits number one three times during its run on the charts. After it hits the top of the pop chart on December 9, 1978 it is bumped from the top by “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond returning to the top (on December 16, 1978) after being displaced by “Le Freak”. It holds on to the top spot for two more weeks over the Christmas holiday before being bumped from the top by the Bee Gees’ “Too Much Heaven” on January 6, 1979. Startlingly, two weeks later, Chic return to the top for the third and final time on January 20, 1979 for three more weeks. Regarded as a definitive recording not just of the Disco Era, but of 70’s music period, it is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2015. “Le Freak” is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: November 22, 1977 – “Chic”, the debut album by Chic is released. Produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is recorded at Electric Lady Studios and The Power Station in New York City from September – October 1977. After playing together in various incarnations since first meeting in 1970, bassist Bernard Edwards and guitarist Nile Rodgers form the band Chic in 1976 with keyboard player Rob Sabino, drummer Tony Thompson and singer Norma Jean Wright rounding out the basic line up. A DJ friend of theirs named Robert Drake gives them an opportunity to make demo recording of their song “Everybody Dance”, by sneaking them into Electric Lady Studios after hours where he works part time as a recording engineer. A few weeks later, Drake invites Rodgers to The Night Owl, an upscale disco where he DJ’s. Spinning two acetate discs he has cut of Chic’s demo of “Everybody”, Rodgers watches him in stunned amazement as the DJ spins the discs non stop for nearly an hour to the euphoric crowd on the dance floor. Shortly after this, the band return to the studio to cut the single “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)”, which attracts the attention of Buddah Records executive Tom Cossie who options the record for release. When Cossie moves to Atlantic Records only a couple of weeks after Buddah releases “Dance”, he takes the band with him, signing them with Atlantic in spite of the fact they had been previously rejected by the label. The debut album by the New York City based R&B/Disco band is recorded in only three weeks for a budget of $35,000. It features all original songs written by Edwards and Rodgers with vocals by Norma Jean Wright, Alfa Anderson, Diva Gray, David Lasley, Robin Clark and Luther Vandross. It spins off the hit singles “Dance Dance Dance (Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah)” (#6 R&B and Pop) and “Everybody Dance” (#12 R&B, #38 Pop). Originally released on CD in the early 90’s by Atlantic, the original CD is deleted and goes out of print for several years. It is reissued by Wounded Bird Records in 2006, with WEA in Japan remastering and reissuing it on CD in 2011. Out of print on vinyl for more than thirty years, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP by Friday Music in 2016. The album is remastered and reissued on CD and vinyl again, as part of the box set “The Chic Organization: 1977 – 1979” on November 23, 2018. “Chic” peaks at number twelve on the Billboard R&B album chart, number twenty seven on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: November 11, 1978 – “C’est Chic”, the second album by Chic is released. Produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is recorded at The Power Station Studios in New York City from Mid – Late 1978. Buoyed by the success of their their Gold selling debut album, Chic returns to the studio in the Spring of 1978 to work on their sophomore release. With original lead vocalist Norma Jean Wright departing the band for a solo career, Alfa Anderson and Luci Martin become the lead voices for Chic. While working on their own album, Edwards and Rodgers also concurrently produce an album for Philadelphia based family group Sister Sledge after Atlantic Records executives let them choose whatever act on the company roster they want to work with. The song “He’s The Greatest Dancer”, originally intended to go on Chic’s album is given to Sister Sledge, while “I Want Your Love” (#5 R&B, #7 Pop) written with the intent of giving it to the Sledges, is instead placed on “C’est Chic”. The albums’ cornerstone track, “Le Freak” (#1 Pop and R&B) is inspired by an incident at the legendary Studio 54 disco on New Year’s Eve of 1977, when the producers are invited by singer Grace Jones to discuss working with her. Edwards and Rodgers are met with the club’s infamous “velvet rope” door policy and are not admitted. They instead go to Nile’s apartment around the corner, and begin jamming on a riff that starts with the refrain “ahhh, f*** off!!!, which evolves into “ahhh, freak out!!” With “Le Freak” being issued as the lead single, the album quickly takes off, becoming Chic’s biggest seller and today is regarded as a landmark album of the Disco Era. The front and back cover photos are taken by legendary photographer Joel Brodsky (The Doors, Ohio Players, Funkadelic). Beyond the albums’ two hit singles, the lead track “Chic Cheer” also becomes a dance floor favorite, later being sampled on singer Faith Evans’ hit “Love Like This” in 1998 and on Fatman Scoop’s “Be Faithful”. Originally issued on CD in 1990, it is remastered and reissued by Warner Japan in 1998, packaged in a mini-LP sleeve (w/ HDCD encoding). Out of print on vinyl for nearly thirty years, the album is  reissued as a 180 gram LP by Friday Music in 2013. The album is remastered again, by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios. It’s reissued as part of the box set “The Chic Organization: 1977 -1979” as a five CD, or four LP + 12” single half speed mastered vinyl set, on November 23, 2018. The vinyl edition is also issued separately, coming with an OBI strip detailing the half-speed mastering process. “C’est Chic” spends eleven weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number four on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: August 18, 1979 – “Good Times” by Chic hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the R&B singles chart for 6 weeks on July 28, 1979. Written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is the second chart topping single the New York City based R&B band led by musicians Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers. One of the first songs completed for Chic’s third album “Risque”, the song was not originally Atlantic Records choice for the first single. The label actually preferred the song “My Feet Keep Dancing”. The label quickly presses singles and has them ready to ship, when Edwards and Rodgers have a disagreement over the labels choice, resulting in the two not speaking to each other for several days. When they both realize that they don’t want the song to be the first single, they quickly call a meeting with Atlantic label execs asking that “Feet” be withdrawn, and “Good Times” be released instead. The decision proves to be a wise one with “Good Times” rising to the top of the pop and R&B singles charts quickly. Entering the Hot 100 at #72 on June 16, 1979, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. “My Feet Keep Dancing” is eventually issued as the third and final single from “Risque” in late 1979, peaking at #42 on the R&B singles chart and Bubbling Under the Hot 100 at #101. “Good Times” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 30, 1979 – “Risqué”, the third album by Chic is released. Produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is recorded at The Power Station, Electric Lady Studios in New York City and Kendun Recorders in Burbank, CA from March – May 1979. While their highly successful second album “C’est Chic” and its second single “I Want Your Love” are riding the charts and ruling the dance floor, Chic return to the studio in the early Spring of 1979 to begin working on their third full length release. Continuing their prolific writing and production work, band leaders Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers continue to expand and evolve the musical boundaries of Chic’s sound on “Risqué”. With the Disco phenomenon reaching the apex of its popularity, Edwards and Rodgers songs also reflect the shifting tide. With most dance music clocking in at tempo of 120 BPM or higher, the more uptempo material on the album sports none of the trademarks or cliches that are common in Disco, including the stereotypical four on the floor kick drum anchoring the tracks. The dance oriented material feature more syncopated rhythms, combined with Chic’s sophisticated string arrangements. With its centerpiece, the landmark single “Good Times” (#1 R&B, #1 Pop) leading the way, it spins off two other singles including “My Forbidden Lover” (#33 R&B, #43 Pop) and “My Feet Keep Dancing” (#42 R&B, #101 Pop Bubbling Under), the later featuring tap dance solos by tap legends Fayard Nicholas (of the Nicholas Brothers), Eugene Jackson (of Our Gang), and Sammy Warren. Other stand out tracks on the album include the languid “A Warm Summer Night” and the ballad “Will You Cry (When You Hear This Song)”. The LP’s elegant retro styled black & white cover and inner sleeve photos (taken by photographer Ken Ambrose), feature the band depicting a scene from a 1930’s murder mystery thriller. Original pressings of the vinyl LP in the US and many other countries feature reproductions of Atlantic Records original silver and black labels used on 78 RPM discs during the labels first year of operation. First released on CD in 1991, the album is remastered and reissued by Warner Music Japan in 2011. It is also reissued as a limited edition 180 gram vinyl LP by Friday Music in 2014, issuing it in a gatefold sleeve rather than the original single pocket sleeve design with an inner sleeve featuring printed lyrics. The Friday Music LP is the first time the classic album is available on vinyl in more than two decades. It is also remastered and reissued on CD and vinyl, as part of the box set “The Chic Organization – 1977 – 1979” released in November of 2018. “Risqué” peaks at number two on the Billboard R&B album chart, number five on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 28, 1979 – “Good Times” by Chic hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 6 weeks, also topping the Hot 100 for 1 week on August 18, 1979. Written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is the second R&B and pop chart topper for the seminal New York City based R&B band led by musician and producers Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers. Like many of Chic’s other hit singles, on the surface many of their songs seem quite ambiguous, but in truth often mask a much more profound and deeper meaning within the lyrics. The duo refer to their songs having a “deep hidden meaning” behind them. Edwards and Rodgers base “Good Times” conceptually on depression era pop songs like “Happy Days Are Here Again” and “About A Quarter To Nine”, juxtaposing them with the then down state of the late 70’s US economy and the unbridled hedonism of the “Disco Era”, making a veiled statement about peoples need to escape and to forget about their troubles. That concept even extends to the packaging of the accompanying album “Risque”, which feature the members of the band posed in a sepia toned black & white photograph depicting that bygone era. Released as a single on June 4, 1979, “Good Times” is an immediate smash, both on the dance floor and on the radio. It goes on to become one of the most influential records of the late 20th century and beyond when it also becomes a cornerstone of Hip Hop culture. Its innovative bassline is used as the basis for the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”, as well as spawning numerous songs either directly copying or having been influenced by it. “Good Times” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: June 30, 1980 – “Real People”, the fourth album by Chic is released. Produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is recorded at The Power Station in New York City from March – April 1980. Having ridden a phenomenal wave of success in the late 70’s with such era defining classics as “Everybody Dance”, “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)”, “Le Freak” and “Good Times”, Chic masterminds Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers find themselves at a major musical crossroads at the turn of the new decade. Caught in the midst of the hostile anti-disco backlash that has reached a crescendo by the end of 1979, Chic respond by deepening their funk groove, with more jazzy sophisticated chord changes, flying in the face of critics pontificating that disco is simplistic and lacking in substance. This point is driven home further by the albums defiant first single “Rebels Are We” (#8 R&B, #61 Pop), as a response to their critics and the negativity directed at them. In spite of making a solid and musically challenging record, the public reacts largely with indifference, with the album spinning off one further single with the title track and “Chip Off The Old Block” (#51 R&B, #79 Pop) being released as a double A-side. “Real People” marks the beginning of Chic’s commercial decline, as Edwards and Rodgers continue produce successful records for other artists prior to and after the bands break up in 1983. In spite of the albums poor sales, it remains a cult favorite of devoted Chic fans. The album is reissued briefly on CD in 1992 by Atlantic Records, with another reissue in 2003 by Wounded Bird Records. “Real People” peaks at number eight on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number thirty on the Top 200.

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On this day in music history: June 4, 1979 – “Good Times” by Chic is released. Written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, It is the second R&B and Pop chart topper for the New York City based R&B/Funk/Disco band led by musicians Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers. The track is recorded The Power Station in New York City in March 1979, during sessions for Chic’s third album “Risque”. Edwards and Rodgers develop the concept of the song from 1930’s Depression era “Tin Pan Alley” pop songs such as “Happy Days Are Here Again” and “About A Quarter To Nine”, juxtaposing them with then current state of the economy in America along with the celebratory hedonism of the Disco Era in the late 70’s. “Good Times” is an instant smash upon its release, quickly racing up the charts, hitting number one on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 6 weeks on July 28, 1979, and number one on the Hot 100 for 1 week on August 18, 1979. The songs popularity and influence spreads even further when it becomes the basis of The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”, giving rise to the rap music phenomenon. “Good Times” becomes one of the most important, influential, and widely sampled records of the late twentieth century and beyond. “Good Times” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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Remembering Chic bassist, songwriter and producer Bernard Edwards (born in Greenville, NC) – October 31, 1952 – April 18, 1996

On this day in music history: December 2, 1978 – “Le Freak” by Chic hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 5 weeks, also hitting #1 on the Hot 100 for 6 weeks (non-consecutive) on December 9, 1978. Written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is the first number one single for the New York City based R&B/Funk band. The song is inspired by an incident when Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgersm are denied entry into Studio 54 on New Year’s Eve 1977, after being invited by Grace Jones. The duo encounter the discos’ notoriously brash doorman Marc Benecke, who brusquely tells them that they are not on the guest list. Upset at the rebuff, the pair go back to Rodgers apartment around the corner and jam, coming up with the song, which is initially titled “F*** Off”. Realizing that they’re on to something, the lyric is changed, from “f*** off” to “freak out”. Taking into mind the current popular dance “the freak”, they re-title the song “Le Freak”. Released in late September of 1978 as the first single from the bands’ second album “C’est Chic”, it becomes the largest selling single in the history of Atlantic Records, shifting an astounding six million copies in the US alone. The single is such a massive seller, eventually it is taken out of print for a time, with Atlantic and Chic fearing that it will impede on sales of “C’est Chic”, which sells nearly two million copies. “Le Freak” makes further history on the Hot 100 when the record hits number one three times during its run on the charts. After it hits the top of the pop chart on December 9, 1978 it is bumped from the top by “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond returning to the top (on December 16, 1978) after being displaced by “Le Freak”. It holds on to the top spot for two more weeks over the Christmas holiday before being bumped from the top by the Bee Gees’ “Too Much Heaven” on January 6, 1979. Startlingly, two weeks later, Chic return to the top for the third and final time on January 20, 1979 for three more weeks. Regarded as a definitive recording not just of the Disco Era, but of 70’s music period, it is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2015. “Le Freak” is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.