Why Nile Rodgers Can’t Stop Making Hits
Having buttressed the careers of Diana Ross, Madonna, David Bowie, the B-52s, Duran Duran, his own band Chic and countless other legendary acts, Nile Rodgers is the archetype of a living legend in the music industry. That the 61-year-old is still creating massive records (with the likes of Avicii and Daft Punk) is more than icing on the cake — Rodgers was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010, and the situation was incredibly dire for some time. To cope, the hitmaker did what he knows best: He picked up his guitar.
“Music is just more urgent to me now,” Rodgers said at a launch event for Nokia Radio’s PlayMe. “I didn’t fear death, I feared not having my voice heard through my guitar.”
Having survived his battle with cancer (“I don’t like to use the word ‘cured,’ but I’m in remission”), Rodgers has spent the last few years gigging and recording at a vigorous clip. Fueled by his famous three-hours-a-night sleep cycle, the producer chalked up projects with not just Avicii and Daft Punk, but also British it-duo Disclosure, Chase & Status, and Tensnake, among others.
Hosted by Billboard’s editorial director Bill Werde, the event celebrated the free music streaming service, which creates a personalized radio station that “learns” the listening habits of each user. Werde and Rodgers participated in a discussion and jam session (Rodgers popped a string, but still funked out to “Let’s Dance,” the song he wrote for David Bowie). Nokia scored a bit of a coup, revealing that Rodgers had been “inspired” by music he heard while using PlayMe to write new songs.
Backstage at New York’s Milk Studios, Rodgers spent half an hour chatting with The Huffington Post about why he agreed to partner with Nokia, the changing role of radio in pop culture, how he links up with newer acts, what it’s like to have new, young fans and whether or not Daft Punk is headed out on tour.