Chic (1977- )

Chic at Guilfest 2012, July 15, 2012
Chic at Guilfest 2012, July 15, 2012
Courtesy Alex Marshall (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers both had experience with music coming out of Stuyvesant High School in New York City, New York as trained jazz musicians. They met in 1970 and in 1972 they created the jazz/ rock group, The Big Apple Band. They performed first in New York City but finally became popular enough to tour beyond the city in 1976. In 1977 drummer Tony Thompson and vocalists Norma Jean Wright and Alfa Anderson joined them and the five members changed their name to Chic.

Later in 1977 they released their first single “Dance, Dance, Dance” on the Buddha label and it became popular within the disco club scene. Atlantic Records noticed the group, quickly signed them to a deal, and re-released their song which reached No. 6 on the pop charts.  The group followed up with “Everybody Dance” in 1978 and soon after released their first album, Chic. Norma Jean Wright left the group to pursue a solo career and she was replaced by Luci Martin. The group’s second album, C’est Chic, spawned “Le Freak,” the song would spend five weeks atop the pop and R&B charts in 1978 and would become Atlantic’s most successful single selling more than four million copies. Their album would go platinum and the group’s status in the R&B and disco world was now well established.

Chic produced another platinum disco album, Risqué in 1979. “Good Time” from the LP would be reimagined throughout the decades by groups ranging from the English rock band Queen to New York rappers the Sugarhill Gang. Edwards and Rogers also worked with other artists. In 1978 they wrote and produced Sister Sledge’s popular songs, “We are Family” and “He’s the Greatest Dancer.” In 1979. Diana Ross asked the duo to work on her solo album Diana, which produced her No. 1 hit on the pop and R&B charts, “Upside Down,” in 1980.

The 1980s proved more difficult for Edwards, Rogers, and Chic. They failed to have any major hits early in the decade and disbanded in 1983.  Nile Rogers now focused on producing works for other artists. Rodgers worked with David Bowie on his 1983 Let’s Dance album, Madonna’s Like a Virgin (1984), and Mick Jagger’s She’s the Boss (1985). Bernard Edward was also credited on Robert Palmer’s 1985 breakthrough album, Riptide.

Chic reformed in 1992 with Rodgers and Edwards adding vocalists Sylver Sharp and Jenn Thomas. Their next album, Chic-ism, was released in 1996 and led to worldwide tours for the first time since the early 1980s. Tragedy struck in Japan after Edwards was found dead on April 18, 1996 in his hotel after battling pneumonia. Rogers and Chic continued to tour until the group disbanded again in 1999.

In 2010 Chic released a compilation album of the group’s greatest hits which included Edwards’ final performance in Japan. Rodgers would face and beat cancer in the second decade of the 21st Century while collaborating with artists such as Duran Duran and Daft Punk. He also revamped Chic and continues to lead the group. On June 12, 2018, Chic announced the release of its next album, It’s About Time.