Nile Rodgers brought disco to the attention of the masses during the 1970s, and since then, he has continued to keep the people dancing. A lot has changed since Rodgers made his entrance alongside Bernie Edwards in Chic, but each generation continue to find meaning from his songs, and the last decade has witnessed his renaissance.
While Rodgers will always have an intrinsic link to the genre of funk, his legacy is sprinkled across various fields of music. The hitmaker has added his magic touch to work from David Bowie, Sister Sledge, Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, Diana Ross, Duran Duran, Madonna, and The B-52s. In 2013, he made his comeback in the charts alongside French electronic pioneers Daft Punk, solidifying his name into the annals of music.
The Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, so enamoured by the work of his idol, named his son after Rodgers, and he once explained what makes him admire the Chic guitarist. Marr told The Guardian, “He was a hero not just as a guitar player but because he worked on lots and lots of projects – and it seemed like no one gave him shit for it! So he was someone I related to, and still do”.
For an artist inherently linked to the guitar, surprisingly, Rodgers’ favourite album of all time doesn’t even feature the instrument. The master of funk told Rolling Stone in 2020 that no album surpasses John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme.
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The avant-garde jazz masterpiece was recorded in just one session, with Coltrane lining up a star-studded quartet consisting of McCoy Turner, Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones. Rodgers revealed that the record continues to have a “spiritual” effect on him despite being decades on from when the album first surfaced in his life.
“It was everything,” Rodgers said of the record. “It was spiritual; it was artistic; the level of virtuosity of the playing; the polyrhythms of [drummer] Elvin Jones while they’re playing these sort of straight-ahead melodies and heads. I was totally immersed in that record”.
His highlight on the album is the opening piece, ‘Acknowledgement’, as Rodgers explained: “To hear them singing and chanting, that was amazing to me, because it felt like I was getting a look into Coltrane’s soul,” he says. “Which obviously I’d always felt that all my life from his playing, but to hear the person speak was like, ‘Whoa, what is this?’ It’s a magical thing”.
Furthermore, Rodgers’ even named it the one album he’d want as a companion if he found himself stranded on a desert island. “I have a pretty substantial record collection,” he explained. “But if all of those records somehow managed to disappear, and [I only had one] left to listen to for the rest of my life, it would be A Love Supreme“.
Rodgers’ jazz roots have shaped him as an artist. He began in school as a flautist before playing the clarinet and eventually falling in love with the guitar. Growing up on Coltrane records has left an eminent mark on his work today, albeit not in a traditional sense. However, undoubtedly Rodgers has helped modernise the genre by adding a funky twist that propelled the sound into compelling, contemporary areas.