Nile Rodgers: Musician Extraordinaire
By Keith Procter
aka daddynathan

Even the hardest of the hardcore Conker™: Live & Reloaded players is probably unaware of the impact Nile Rodgers has had on their enjoyment of the game.

And that doesn't bother Rodgers one bit. He actually prefers being in the background.

Rodgers was responsible for collecting and organizing the game's soundtrack. “I want the folks playing the game to like the music,” he said. “I want people to say, ‘Did you hear that?' when they are playing the game, but the music is supposed to support the star and the star is the game.”

Nile Rodgers: producer
for the official Conker:
Live & Reloaded

Even though he wants to stay in the background, the native of New York City has had a long, diverse, and distinguished career in the music industry that is worthy of headlines.

Rodgers, who has been a musical force over a span of four decades, developed a love for gaming playing titles like vintage titles from era when Pac-Man and Pong were the most popular games.

Nile Rodgers the Gamer
“I had full-size versions of the arcade games in my apartment,” said Rodgers, who studied Jazz and Classical music. “We played them for hours.”

Even then, the music in the games struck a chord with him.

“The music in the games stuck in our heads and we would write our own lyrics for the songs in the game,” said Rodgers, laughing softly. “We would write our own words, which we sang while playing. They were very personal and rather raunchy … not at all commercial.”

His Microsoft Game Studios credits include both versions of Halo and more than a dozen others. He is currently working on the soundtrack for Perfect Dark Zero and several other Xbox 360 games.

Nile Rodgers Meets the Muppets
Rodgers' own musical star rose when, as a teenager, he became the guitar player for the Sesame Street television show. He left Sesame Street after one season to join the stage band at the Apollo Theater.

He has gone from there to become a prolific performer, songwriter and music producer – working with a range of artists that runs the gamut from Steve Vai to David Bowie to Madonna to Duran Duran to Blondie to Diana Ross to Mick Jagger to Herbie Hancock to Hoobastank. The list could go on and on and on …

It is fitting that Rodgers first rose to prominence as the co-founder of Chic, with the late Bernard Edwards. Chic, a trendsetting, disco-era act, is still in demand today. Less than a week before this interview, Rodgers and Chic were the headliners at sold-out shows in the Netherlands – at the historic Paradiso in Amsterdam and Gent, where there more than 100,000 people in the audience.

While his guitar fueled Chic's driving, passionate beats and rhythms, Rodgers was content to let other members of the group stand out front on the stage.

“With Chic, the girls were always out front. I was always there to support them,” he said. “It feels like my job is to support people, I support great artists. When I worked with a symphony, I sat in the third chair, not the first chair.

“That's the basis of my work.”

Nile Rodgers the Songwriter
But try as he might to push others into the limelight, his songwriting talent and prodigious production work are impossible to ignore.

His songwriting credits include a string of hits for Chic (“Dance, Dance, Dance”, “Le Freak”, “Good Times”, “I Want Your Love”),  which are heavily sampled by many Rap and Hip Hop artists. But his best known composition is “We Are Family,” which became a hit for Sister Sledge in 1979.

Nile in the spotlight of Paradiso,
a club in Amsterdam where he
and his band Chic
recently perfmormed

Nile playing with Madonna
at Live Aid in 1985

“Without a doubt it's the single most important song,” Rodgers said. “I don't go a week without hearing that song being played somewhere. It's become an anthem for so many people.”
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, he founded the We Are Family Foundation, whose mission statement reads:

We Are Family Foundation celebrates our common humanity and the vision of a global family by creating and supporting programs that inspire and educate individuals of all ages about diversity, understanding, respect and multiculturalism; and to support those who are victims of intolerance.

Rodgers said he finds it hard to believe he's been able to sustain such a high level of success over such a long period of time. For one thing, he never imagined that he would be a songwriter of note, comparable to legends like Bob Dylan and John Lennon.

“When you go to a Paul Simon concert, you expect him to sing only Paul Simon songs. I didn't think I would be in such position to that. But my life is such that I recently gave a 2 ½-hour performance and only performed my own songs – and the people were singing along. That's staggering to me!"

When asked to identify career highlights that shine brighter than others, he said he's been too busy to look and compile a list. He's a person who's is totally absorbed in what's happening now. He feels like he has not maxed his potential.

“Maybe when it's over I'll have a different point of view, but what I'm doing now is what excites me,” he said.

“Whether it is recording in a field with Hoobastank or working in a studio recording for Halo 2, whatever I'm doing now is the most exciting.”

Chic -- Left to Right - Rich Hilton (keyboards), Nile Rodgers (rhythm guitar), Omar Hakim (drums), Sylver Logan Sharp (vocals) Gerardo Velez (percussion), Jessica Wagner (vocals), Dan Moretti (saxophone), Barry Johnson (bass guitar), Curt Ramm (trumpet), Sweet Cherie Mitchell (keyboards)