Chic is an American disco and R&B band that was formed in 1976 by guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards. It is best-known for its commercially successful disco songs. Chic has been nominated for inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame five times.
Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards met in 1970, as fellow session musicians working around the New York City circuit. They formed a rock band called The Boys and later The Big Apple Band, playing numerous gigs around New York City. But despite interest in their demos, they could not get a record contract, possibly in part because music companies of the time didn’t believe that black artists could create saleable rock music.
In 1977, Edwards and Rodgers had former LaBelle and Ecstasy, Passion, & Pain drummer Tony Thompson join the band, performing as a trio doing covers at various gigs. Needing a singer to become a full band, they engaged Norma Jean Wright under an agreement that she wanted to have a dual career between the band and her solo career.
Chic influenced the vocal and music style of the Italian-American disco band Change, which had a string of hits in the early 1980s. In addition to refining a relatively minimalist take on the disco sound, Chic helped to inspire other artists to forge their own sound. For example, The Sugarhill Gang used “Good Times” as the basis for its hit “Rapper’s Delight”, which helped launch the hip hop recorded music format as we know today.
Later that year, Vaughn Mason and Crew sampled “Good Times” on its song “Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll.” “Good Times” was also used by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five on its hit “..On the Wheels of Steel,” which was used in the end sequence of the first hip-hop movie, Wild Style, from 1982. Blondie’s 1980 US number-one hit “Rapture” was not only influenced by “Good Times” but was a direct tribute to Chic, and lead singer Deborah Harry’s 1981 debut solo album Koo Koo was produced by Edwards and Rodgers.
Chic was cited as an influence by the majority of successful bands to emerge from Great Britain in the 1980s. John Taylor, the bassist from Duran Duran claims the bass part of their top 10 single “Rio” was influenced by Edwards’ work with Chic. Even Johnny Marr of The Smiths has cited the group as a formative influence. Rodgers guitar work has been so emulated as to become commonplace, and Edwards’ lyrical bass is also much-cited in music circles, as is Thompson’s steady and hard-hitting recorded drum work. Queen got the inspiration for its hit single “Another One Bites the Dust” from Bernard Edwards’ familiar bass guitar riff on “Good Times” after John Deacon met the band in The Power Station recording studio.
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