Anyone who knows me well, knows that I’m a long time fan of the Bee Gees. From the time they formed in 1958, they seemed to regularly pop in and out of my life. The harmony in ‘Massachusetts’ never left me, and their entire songbook has been part of me ever since.
Like Miles Davis or Bob Marley, they managed to change the world I inhabited and everything in it. Using sheer talent, musical genius and a profound connection to the culture they lived in, they explored, shaped and created wonders we take for granted today.
And then there are the giants we never knew existed. Giants like Nile Rogers. The Nile who isn’t exactly a household name but still manages to shake the core of our universe.
Together, Nile and his best bud Bernard Edwards, created one of the most powerful sounds in popular music. As easily recognizable as Glen Miller and big enough to spawn the only credible threat to rock and roll, the two of them turned out to be the most important, single, musical force in the past sixty years.
Once you realize who he is and what he was up to, you suddenly understand the seventies, the eighties, and even the nineties. And what he’s up to now.. well it’s just as good.
I stumbled across a review of his show last week in The Guardian. Here was a guy returning after a two year struggle with prostrate cancer to climb on the stage with his band and for two solid hours, create an extraordinary and powerful tribute to disco. Why would someone do that in this day and age? And why would they bother I wondered?
After a little digging around I began to realize in fact because he was IT. This whole disco thing, it was him. And it doesn’t just stop there.
A classically trained jazz guitarist he started playing funk on the original Sesame Street and R&B at the Apollo Theatre where he met Bernard in his early twenties. From fusion jazz to creating a sound that transformed into hip-hop thanks to the Sugarhill Gang. This guy knew what he was doing. And apparently he still does.
Not to mention Bowie, Madonna, Duran Duran, or INXS. And then there’s Chic. It seems it all was family.
I soon discovered there are very few people who have the ability to touch and galvanize every area of the culture they inhabit. But this guy is the real deal. Not because he has an affinity for industry politics or a select group of friends but because he is good. Real good!
With his huge smile and the generous heart that marks all genuine talent and genius, he continues to give. But don’t trust me, hurry on down and catch the entire story for yourself on this wonderful documentary produced by the BBC. And then make up your own mind.