By Hayden Wright
Nile Rodgers appeared on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballot 11 times and never made the cut until 2016. In a sense, his just-announced nomination makes history but for one glaring omission. Rodgers has been recognized without his band, Chic, to whom he credits much of his subsequent success as a writer and producer.
“It’s sort of bittersweet,” he told Rolling Stone. “I’m a little perplexed because even though I’m quite flattered that they believed that I was worthy, my band Chic didn’t win. They plucked me out of the band and said, ‘You’re better than Chic.’ That’s wacky to me. The only reason why I met Bowie and Madonna and Duran Duran and INXS is because they all loved Chic.”
Despite Chic’s relatively short two-year run, Rodgers says the band’s success stacks up to Hall of Fame standards, purely by the numbers.
“We never had a record that wasn’t gold, platinum or multiple platinum,” he said. “I’m talking singles. ‘Le Freak’ was the largest-selling single in the history of Atlantic Records for 37 years. No other record sold that much for 37 years. If I was an announcer of rock & roll statistics I’d say, ‘There’s a future hall of famer there.’ ‘Le Freak’ went Number One three times, same song. Nobody in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has done that.”
Rodgers added that it’s wrong to dismiss Chic as a dance group when much of its work was built around instrumentals and rock sounds. Moreover, he pointed out Madonna as an example of pop musicians crossing over to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Despite the mystifying criteria, Niles said he will accept the Lifetime Achievement Award and continue beating the Chic drum for next year.
“I am proud of it,” he said. “But I’d be more proud if it was the only band to go Number One on the Billboard charts three times with the same song. We’re the only one. If I knew the criteria to which it was judged, I’d go, ‘Oh, that’s cool. We did this.’ I still don’t know what I did to get in this year and not the year before if I’m going to get pulled out of Chic. What did I do that was so great that pales Chic? To me, Chic’s accomplishments are unreal.”