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Nile Rodgers Says Chic Were Influenced by Journey and Kiss

Mike Coppola (2) / Michael Loccisano, Getty Images
Mike Coppola (2) / Michael Loccisano, Getty Images

Last night, guitarist/songwriter/producer extraordinaire Nile Rodgers received his long-overdue induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the Award for Musical Excellence. But while the band he founded, Chic, were one of the best-selling disco acts, Rodgers spoke about how Journey and Kiss influenced he and bassist Bernard Edwards in their pre-Chic days.

In an interview after the ceremony, Rodgers said that he never really understood the reason for the division between genres. “What makes it sort of odd to me is that we were a rock & roll band before we were an R&B band,” he told Rolling Stone. “It’s funny that we’re here with Journey; we were trying just to be a funkier version of Journey. Our lead singer had that vocal style like [Living Colour‘s] Corey Glover or Ronnie [James] Dio. …I was watching Neal Schon play and I kept thinking to myself, when I was a kid this was what I loved. ”

It wasn’t until he went to England and saw Bryan Ferry in Roxy Music that he started to get a better sense of the visual element that he wanted. “I’ve never seen a rock & roll man get dressed up, because whatever we wore in the morning is the same thing we wore all day long,” he continued. “So these guys got all dressed up and I said, ‘Well, let’s do the black version of that.'”

Things clicked further when keyboardist Rob Sabino introduced Rodgers to Ace Frehley. “We went to see Kiss and went, “Holy s—, look at these guys!” Their fans were going crazy,” he added. “So, Ace and I would sit down and have drinks together and people were just walking by him and I’m like, ‘They were frenzied over you and now they don’t even know you’ and he was like, ‘Yeah, that’s how we want it.'”

All of those combined to give him an idea. “What can we do where we can have the anonymity of Kiss and the sophistication of Roxy Music? So we invented Chic and Chic is a mashup of Roxy Music and Kiss.”

But he’s still holding out hope that Chic will eventually have their turn in the spotlight. “If you think about achievements and what people have done if you’re in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, like, OK, so I’m in for musical excellence. Chic is f—ing musical excellence personified.”

The Best Photos From the 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Next: Our Coverage of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

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