Nile Gregory Rodgers is an American musician, composer, arranger, and guitarist, and is considered one of the most influential music producers in the history of popular music.
Rodgers began his career as a session guitarist in New York, touring with the Sesame Street band in his teens, and then working in the house band at Harlem's world famous Apollo Theater – playing behind Screaming Jay Hawkins, Maxine Brown, Aretha Franklin, Ben E. King, Betty Wright, Earl Lewis and the Channels, Parliament Funkadelic, and many other legendary R&B artists.
Nile met bassist Bernard Edwards in 1970. Together they formed The Big Apple Band that backed R&B act New York City (“I’m Doing Fine Now”). The band’s one hit allowed them to tour extensively, even opening for The Jackson 5 on the American leg of their first world tour in 1973. New York City disbanded after their second album failed to yield a hit, but Nile and Bernard joined forces with drummer Tony Thompson, and worked and recorded as a Funk Rock band called The Boys. They played numerous gigs up and down the East Coast. Despite major label interest in their demos, they could not get a record deal when the record companies discovered they were black; the excuse was that black Rock & Roll artists would be too hard to promote. The band continued gigging, but more often as the Big Apple Band, playing local bars.
Formation of CHIC
As the Big Apple Band, Rodgers and Edwards worked with Ashford & Simpson, Luther Vandross and many others. But another New York artist named Walter Murphy, got a hit record and his band was also called The Big Apple Band. Rodgers and Edwards were forced to change their band’s name to avoid confusion, hence the R&B/Funk /Disco band CHIC was formed in 1977. Between gigs they recorded their first album with their then boss Luther Vandross. Luther provided the background vocals on the group’s early recordings. The band scored numerous top ten hits and helped propel Disco to new levels of popularity. CHIC’s chart-topping songs “Le Freak,” “I Want Your Love,” “Everybody Dance,” “Dance, Dance, Dance,” “My Forbidden Lover,” and "Good Times” have become Club/Pop/R&B standards. “Le Freak” is Atlantic Records’ only triple platinum selling single and “Good Times” shot to the #1 spot in spite of the Disco Sucks backlash in 1979.