My CHIC Story
About me and my fantastic journey with CHIC.
My name is Luc and I live in Switzerland. For those who wouldn't know, the abbreviation commonly used to refer to my country is "CH" (from its Latin name "Confœderatio Helvetica"), hence my nickname: CHCHICfan.
I discovered CHIC in 1978 with the single Le Freak. I really liked the song, especially Nile Rodgers' unique style of playing the guitar. When Good Times came out the following year, it was a revelation. I found this track extraordinary, especially the long instrumental bridge. I was lucky to win the LP Risqué at a radio quiz and, in the same week, I ran to buy both previous albums Chic and C'est Chic.
My passion for this band had started. I then discovered that the songs of Sister Sledge (He's the Greatest Dancer, We Are Family, Lost in Music and more), which I was also liking very much, were also "written, arranged and conducted by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers". How wonderful! At the time, there was no Internet and it was much more difficult to keep up to date with artists' projects. One day in 1980, I heard a song playing in a record store. The very "CHIC" sound caught my attention and I asked to see the cover: it was Diana, by Diana Ross, produced by The CHIC Organization. I bought it immediately! The albums of Sheila & B. Devotion (a big surprise to see this famous French artist produced by my favorite band!) and Debbie Harry followed, but you know the story.
I had also noticed that a new CHIC album (by the band itself) was released every year. At that time, I feverishly scrutinized the window of my record store which displayed all the new releases. But in 1984... nothing! CHIC's annual LP has not been released. What a disappointment! Fortunately, there had been the respective solo albums of Nile and Bernard, then the productions of Nile Rodgers like Let's Dance by David Bowie. I was on the lookout for anything that had the name of one of the members of CHIC.
For my birthday in 1984, my brother gave me a Madonna record. I knew this artist a bit from her hit song Holiday, but she wasn't appealing to me more than that. I was a little surprised at the choice of my brother. He then told me to look at what was written on the back... And then I understood better!
Well, I'm not going to retrace here the entire discography of my favorite musicians. Nevertheless, the return of CHIC in 1982 with CHIC-ism was an immense joy, fueling a great hope to see the band back more regularly. Sadly, hope was shattered by the death of Bernard Edwards in 1996.
The following years were less CHIC-ish, until 2004 when, thanks to Pocat's CHICtribute.com website, I heard that Nile Rodgers & CHIC will perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Switzerland. Excitement: 26 years after having known them, it will be the first time that I will see them in concert. And what fun! Even better than I had imagined. It was a waking dream. I hid a camera and took a few badly framed photos on the sly, to have a souvenir. I was afraid of being caught... At the end of the concert, CHIC announced they will be back the following year!
Of course, I didn't miss the 2005 concert, which also included guests like Marcus Miller, David Sanborn and Boney James. And since the singer Sylver Logan Sharp asked to send our best photos to nilerodgers.com, I was less embarrassed to take some and sent them also to CHICtribute.com who put them online. So did the former Nile Rodgers' website too.
In the spring of 2006, I discovered with great surprise that eleven of my photos from 2005 were used, along with those of another amateur photographer, for the booklet of an edition of the live CD/DVD A Night in Amsterdam. This release wasn't supervised by Nile Rodger's teams. However, although I am not credited, I am very happy and feel very honored that my photos have been chosen.
In July of the same year, CHIC are again at the Montreux Jazz Festival but this time as part of a tribute evening to Ahmet Ertegun, the founder of the Atlantic record company, with many other artists including Buddy Williams, Ronnie Cuber, Jerry Jemmott, Cornell Dupree, Les McCann and the Souls Survivors, George Duke, Paolo Nutini, Ben E. King, Solomon Burke, Kid Rock, Stevie Nicks, Steve Winwood, Robert Plant and Chaka Khan. The ticket for this gala is quite expensive and the standing places are this time at the back of the room. So I told Pocat that I probably won't attend this show, especially since CHIC will only perform a few songs and they'll also give a free concert the next day, still as part of the Festival. Pocat then offered me to ask Nile Rodgers for a pass, so that I can take pictures for his website CHICtribute.com. I couldn't believe it, but Nile agreed!
The day before the concert, despite several prior confirmations, I still hadn't received a pass. I informed Pocat by giving him my mobile number. At around two o'clock in the morning, while I was soundly sleeping, my cellphone rang. Still completely drowsy, I picked up and heard "Hello, this is Nile Rodgers... "! I couldn't believe my ears and got suddenly wide awake with my heart beating like crazy. Nile apologized for the inconvenience and asked me to come to his hotel reception in the late afternoon to sort out the access issue. He was very kind and predicted a great show for me tonight. I was very excited and had a hard time falling back to sleep!
At noon, Nile called again to inform me that I can get my pass directly at the Festival VIP reception. Arrived there, my name wasn't on the list and they sent me from counter to counter. I laughed myself at the impression of a liar that I must give by saying that Nile Rodgers called me that night to confirm I'll get a pass! I finally had to call Nile, who was able to remedy the situation by speaking with the access manager. So I got a golden bracelet that gave me access to the concert and the right to take pictures. An hour before the concert started, Nile called me again to make sure everything was in order. I was really touched by the simplicity and kindness of the artist.
The concert was indeed fabulous, with many big names in music. Surrounded by press photographers with their big zooms, I was able to take pictures with my little digital compact camera. Once the concert was over, I was allowed to go backstage and meet Nile Rodgers for the first time. We exchanged a few words and he thanked me for the photos. He also agreed to pose with me for the photo that became my avatar. After all these years of admiration for this great artist, it was truly an unthinkable dream coming true. I will never forget this evening, made possible thanks to Pocat whom I will never stop thanking.
The next day, I attended the free concert at Jazz Café, where Kid Rock joined to rap on Good Times/Rapper's Delight.
Ahmet Ertegun died at the end of 2006. A little later, the Nile Rodgers team asked me for permission to use some of my photos of Montreux for a tribute page to the founder of Atlantic Records, which Nile published in BillBoard magazine of February 24, 2007, on page 43. Again, this is an honor I could never have imagined.
It took me 5 more years to see CHIC again on stage. It was on June 18, 2011 at the Trianon in Paris, after Nile recovered from prostate cancer. A memorable concert with a crazy atmosphere, in which I discovered the new lead singers Kimberly Davis and Folami.