Rock

Nile Rodgers explains why Jeff Beck was a “unique individual”

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The disco subgenre is intrinsically associated to Chic’s Nile Rodgers. This affection is mostly attributable to his pioneering work with late bandmate Bernard Edwards, a relationship that eventually advanced the genre thanks to songs like “Le Freak” and “Everybody Dance.”

Nevertheless, despite his success in the disco world, Rodgers is also intimately associated with rock music, a genre he was immersed in as a young hippy growing up in New York City in the 1960s. Rodgers’ listing of his favorite musicians on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in 2018 as The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and The Doors serves as evidence of this.

The Chic frontman described the 1967 first album of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, “Are You Experienced,” as “the most important piece of music to me of all time, for about two or three weeks, but it’s still cool. The lyrics, and the way he played, this really made me who I am.”

In addition to being a lover of rock music, Rodgers also actively contributed to the development of the genre by collaborating with legends like Mick Jagger, David Bowie, and Eric Clapton. He also served as the producer of Jeff Beck’s fifth studio album, Flash, released in 1985. On this album, legends like Rod Stewart, Carmine Appice, and Jan Hammer contributed their abilities.

In 2009, Rodgers discussed his time spent working with Jeff Beck in an interview with Metal Express Radio. Given his reputation as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, he was asked if it was ever difficult to direct the Londoner in how he wanted things performed. Rodgers gave a detailed explanation and listed Beck as one of his “favorite guitarists” and a “unique individual”.

He said, “Jeff is one of my personal favourite guitar players of all time. I don’t know anybody that plays guitar like Jeff Beck. He’s a unique individual. He just sounds like Jeff Beck and no one else. One of my favourite periods in Rock is the Jeff Beck Group. I didn’t understand that Rod Stewart had shifted into the style of the Rod Stewart that we all know now. I was superimposing my romanticism of the Jeff Beck Group onto my work with Jeff; I really wanted that record to be like the Jeff Beck Group. Now this sounds like a Spinal Tap moment, but it’s true.”

He added, “I wanted to make a great Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart Rock record, and he walked into the studio with the soundtrack to Chariots of Fire, and he played it to me, and he said, ‘Nile, I want to make a record that sounds like that!!’ I said to him, ‘Are you kidding me? I have to go to the record company and tell them that we are going to cover Chariots of Fire?’ So I wrote some songs with him and did one single, ‘People Get Ready’. That wasn’t exactly what I wanted to write, but I was trying to rescue the project and get him to try something different. He was dead serious though, he wanted to make a record like Chariot’s of Fire.”

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