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Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco and Destiny

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By the age of 6 he was skipping school and travelling to forbidden areas of cities to spend his day in the cinema and before he was much older than that he was following family members’ proclivities in prodigious drug taking and alcoholism. Rodgers brilliantly captures the flavour of this bohemian underground and black music scene that flourished in the big cities of the US in the ‘60s. This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Nile Rodgers and tagged aljarreau, bernardedwards, chic, davidbowie, disco, inxs, lefreak, let'sdance, nilerodgers. From the glamour of Studio 54 to the squalor of New York's Valhalla, and with a cast of bohemians, drop-outs, disco divas and the odd world-famous celebrity, Niles Rodgers tells his astonishing story. During pop’s most glamorous and decadent age, Nile Rodgers wrote the biggest records and lived behind the velvet rope—whether he was holding court in the bathroom stalls at Studio 54, club hopping with Madonna, or scarfing down White Castle burgers with Diana Ross.

Overall, I would have perhaps liked more emphasis on his studio techniques and creative revelations, but the unique personal narrative was more than impressive enough to carry the book. He tires towards the end of his story, skipping years in a few sentences (hence four stars), but we'll forgive him that given how many drugs he claims to have downed. Rodgers, best known as the founder of Chic who went on to produce landmark albums for Madonna and David Bowie, was raised by downtown heroin junkies in the 1950s and ’60s, and it's fascinating to see how profoundly his worldview was shaped by the ups and downs of this experience.In 1979, he was in a crowded dive bar’s bathroom with a couple of Diana Ross impersonators when he wondered, “What would it be like if Diana celebrated her status among gay men in a song? The 103 third parties who use cookies on this service do so for their purposes of displaying and measuring personalized ads, generating audience insights, and developing and improving products. For Bowie, the Rodgers-produced album Let’s Dance (his best-selling record ever) was a pop exercise—the title track was Bowie’s “postmodern homage to the Isley Brothers’ ‘Twist and Shout.

As Rodgers muses on that pivotal experience: “By not getting what we wanted, we got more than we ever imagined. I could not help throwing the Niles playlist on my stereo while reading about the artists he worked closely with starting with CHIC, David Bowie, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Diana Ross, and Madonna.Throughout his memoir, Rodgers makes writing chart-toppers sound easy, but as he describes his escapades and explains the “Deep Hidden Meaning” of his songs, we soon see the difficulties of the pop producer—his talent propels other artists to stardom while he remains relatively unknown. So it seems a good time to revisit ‘Le Freak’, Nile’s 2011 memoir (and it accords nicely with my current early-’80s NYC obsession).

The Americana he wrote about so passionately were mainly events that had happened long ago – but he wrote about them as if they were ‘current events’. His mom dragged him to LA and back a couple times, had him sent off age 5 to a sanatorium for asthmatic children, left him a number of times with his two loving but not very vigilant grandmothers, did very little to prevent him from becoming a junkie himself and later in life became his largest supplier of drugs!

In this immensely readable autobiography, Rodgers tells of his chaotic childhood (parents doing and selling drugs, a murderer, several half brothers living with various parents and grandparents - it's all there), his career progression, and his own struggles with addiction. Although I had a serious thing for Chic in elementary school, I had no idea he went on to produce and/or play on so many songs that I have loved since. Born to a hip 14-year-old beauty in 1952, Rodgers was raised among bohemians, criminals and drug addicts in Lower Manhattan, the Bronx and Los Angeles by his African-American mother, his white Jewish stepfather and both biological grandmothers. If you’ve already done that, your item hasn’t arrived, or it’s not as described, you can report that to Etsy by opening a case.

After disco burned out, he went on to produce a staggering list of pop's biggest stars, including Michael Jackson, Madonna, David Bowie, Diana Ross, Prince and Mick Jagger. Not in David Bowie’s opinion, though, and the extended riff on the making of Let’s Dance is essential reading for any fan of that album. I loved discovering, over and over again, that he was partially responsible for so many of the songs I've loved, and which continue to give me great joy.The stars of the scene were his glamorous teenage mom and heroin-addicted Jewish stepfather, but there were also monkeys, voodoo orishas, jazz cats, and serial killers in the mix. So, when we stumbled upon his tremendous list of recommendations for books on music, we had to share it. For his Chic partner Bernard Edwards with whom they traveled so far together, for Andy Warhol, with whom he shared an emergency room, for his grandmothers Goodie and Lenora, their boyfriends (one of whose was a convicted killer, while another gave him his biggest "high" ever when he tuned his first guitar), for his often not very well behaved siblings, for his mom Beverly, for her boyfriends and lovers, he even has good things to say for (yet another) convicted killer who raped his mother. Here Levellers, Diggers, Ranters, Muggletonians, the early Quakers and others taking advantage of the collapse of censorship to bid for new kinds of freedom were given centre stage' Times Higher EducationIn . He shows that with practice, dedication and commitment anything is possible, I had no idea of his background before I read this book; but he shows clearly that if you choose to, you can exceed your environment and become great.

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