Rodgers Brings Disco Era To Life
By DONNA BALANCIA
Nile Rodgers has survived the music industry and cancer and still puts on a show for the ages. With Chic last Friday night at The Wiltern Theatre, Rodgers proves that veteran and young music fans alike have a soft spot for the Disco sound.
“I love Chic, I remember them from the old days,” said fan Betsy Harrington. “The music reminds us of all the … well all the ‘Good Times’ we had in high school.”
For Robert Fenzi, seeing Chic represented something else.
Spanning the Ages
“I was an outcast in my younger years, believe it or not,” Fenzi said. “But when I showed the girls that I could dance to the music I made lots of friends. For that reason, thank God for Nile Rodgers.”
Billy Kaman, 25, said he thought “Chic was totally sick, dude,” and showed that good music spans the age barriers.
The band played all the hits they made famous in the 1970s, when Disco was cool and people were dancing to the likes of “Le Freak” and “Good Times” at Studio 54 and across the nation.
Rodgers as Survivor
Rodgers hasn’t always had a rosy time of it. He survived the death of Disco and also was diagnosed with cancer six years ago.
“But now I am cancer-free,” he told the packed house at The Wiltern, and the audience rose to its collective feet, holding up cell phone lights like twinkling stars.
Rodgers has worked with the most notable in the music business including Madonna, Sister Sledge, Diana Ross, Prince and David Bowie to name a few.
The Death of Disco and David Bowie
He said Bowie helped rescue his career from the depths of Disco hatred in the 1980s, when the world was turning to new wave and post punk sounds. With Bowie he wrote “Let’s Dance,” and Rodgers produced other tunes with the late musician. Rodgers said he wrote the special riff for the Iggy Pop-penned “China Girl,” that Bowie made famous.
It was a special night at The Wiltern for Rodgers. In the house was Jerry Greenberg, former Atlantic Records prez who signed Chic in 1977. Greenberg was hanging on every note by the band, and was up against the stage in the pit, not missing a moment.
Also on hand was Rodgers’ mom, who came on stage to dance for the energetic rendition of the classic “Good Times.”