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Nile Rodgers steals the show at ILMC 34

Nile Rodgers brought the house down at ILMC 34, regaling the (Late) Breakfast Meeting with tales of his work with legends such as David Bowie, Prince and Diana Ross.

The Chic co-founder even squeezed in a shout out to his promoter, Live Nation’s Phil Bowdery, during yesterday’s 90-minute chat with former Dire Straits manager and raconteur Ed Bicknell.

The multi-award winning, genre-defying musician, whose career stretches over five decades, has written, produced and performed on albums that have sold over 500 million units worldwide, and 75 million singles. In 2018, he co-founded Hipgnosis Songs with manager Merck Mercuriadis.

“No one in the club was talking to him, because he didn’t look like David Bowie”

Here is a selection of some of his best anecdotes from yesterday’s interview…

David Bowie & Billy Idol

“David had just been dropped from his record label. I was about to get dropped from mine. The day that we met, we met early in the morning. I thought that I had driven up to this brand new after hours club in New York, called The Continental, with Billy Idol. But, in fact, what happened is I had driven there with someone else, but Billy was right there at the front door. Billy and I loved each other, we partied all the time. We walk in the club and Billy goes, ‘Bloody hell, that’s David fucking Bowie!’ And as he says ‘Bowie’, he barfs, because he had been putting down the sauce all night.”

David Bowie

“At that point, I had seen David. It was so strange because no one in the club was talking to him, because he didn’t look like David Bowie. It was the beginning of the metrosexual look, and he was dressed in a suit while everybody else was all club kitted out. He was the only one that looked like he ran Exxon or something. It was so weird, he was completely by himself. We start talking, and right away, it flipped from us talking about pop music to jazz. I now find out that David Bowie is a complete jazz freak, as a matter of fact, an aficionado. So now we’re trying to out-jazz each other. We’re going for the most underground avant-garde shit ever, it’s like we were playing poker. We’re just going on and on and on and on and on. And it was like no one else in the world existed. We found our thing, and we talked for hours and hours. At some point, he must have asked me for my phone number. A couple of weeks had gone by and my house was being rebuilt, and one of the workers said to me, ‘Hey, Mr Rodgers, some fucking guy keeps calling up every day saying he’s David Bowie.’ I said, ‘Well what did you do?’ He said, ‘I hung up on the cocksucker!’ I said, ‘The next time that cocksucker calls, could you give me the phone? That is David Bowie!’ Anyway, I finally take the call. He and I laugh and we joke. And it was magic, it was so magical because he got dropped. I was getting dropped. By the time we decide that decide we’re going to make this record [Let’s Dance] together, it was just the two of us against the world.”

“There’s no Prince. We finish the song and I see him running away”

Prince

“The first time I played with him was here in London, at some little joint in Camden. I walk in and all I hear is Prince go something like, ‘Oh my God, Nile Rodgers.’ He was playing guitar, he and [Ronnie] Wood. I walk up on stage, he gives me the guitar and he sits down on the keyboards and starts calling out R&B tunes. Poor Woody, who is a sweetheart, didn’t know any of these songs. So Prince and I are all into it, but Woody’s looking for the key and looking for the groove. We finished the first song and I said, ‘I think you should sit down now,’ and it was all cool. It was all love, because we were having the time of our lives. So Ron sits down and then Prince and I… I don’t even know how long we played. The next day I bought every rose in London, and [Prince] told me that when he got back to his room, it was filled with thousands of purple roses. I guess I went overboard, I was so happy with that jam.”

Prince (Part II)

“Years later, we’re playing down in Turks and Caicos where I have a home. Prince has one there too because when he found out that I was building a recording studio, he said, ‘Really? Okay, I’m going to move to Turks and Caicos!’ I never built the recording studio, I’ve got a little writers’ room, but Prince moves down there. We’re doing a concert and Prince happens to be on the island. He comes over and he says, ‘Yo, can I play Let’s Dance with you guys?’ ‘Hell, yes, of course, bro!’ We get to the middle of the show where we do Let’s Dance and I say, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, a really great friend of mine and a really great artist – Prince!’ And we go into the song, but there’s no Prince. We finish the song and I see him running away. I’m like, ‘What the hell?’ A year later, we were playing in New Orleans at the Essence Festival to 70,000 people. He says to me, ‘Hey Nile, can I come out and play Let’s Dance with you?’ ‘Of course Prince, but I’m not falling for it this time.’ So we set up his gear, we play Let’s Dance and we get to the part where we have the whole audience jumping up and down. In the middle of the jump sequence, we heard this roar. And I look to my left, and there’s Prince with one hand in the air jumping up and down with his guitar strapped on. He’s soloing his ass off and he’s killing it. We’re jamming together and it was amazing, it was like my heart was flying. I happened to post a picture of Prince jumping up and down with me and I’m waiting for how long it’s going to take for him to pull it down. [But] Prince reposts the picture. And this is exactly what it says. No words. And I feel like a gazillion dollars. I never had another encounter with him. I never called him and thanked him. I never did anything because he wound up passing away fairly soon after that event. But it was amazing. When you’re a live musician, everything is about playing, giving back and sharing. That’s the shit I live for.”

“We had to fight every step of the way to give her the biggest album of her life”

Diana Ross

“Every song I’ve ever written is based on a non-fiction event, and then we use fictional elements to help complete the story. One night, I’m club hopping and I go to this transvestite club because they have the best music, they don’t have to worry about the Top 40 records, they can play all the records that they think that the crowd is going to be down with. I go to the bathroom. I’m standing there at this trough and on either side of me are at least five Diane Ross impersonators, and a light bulb goes off in my head – I’ve got to write a song about the queer community’s love of Diana Ross. So I call [Chic co-founder Bernard Edwards] and I say, ‘Bro, write down, “I’m coming out,” because I’m gonna stay up, I’m gonna get drunk and I’m gonna forget this. Imagine that she walks out on stage and the first words out of her mouth are, “I’m coming out.” We’re gonna sell a million records just to the queer community alone!’ The next day, he comes in the studio and we put together I’m Coming Out. Today, to you guys that probably just sounds like a pop record. But when we wrote that, [Motown founder] Berry Gordy was furious. He was like, ‘Whoa, this is not a Diana Ross record.’ After months of lawsuits and this and that, they decided to put it out. The biggest record of Diana Ross’s life is the album Diana. We had to fight, fight, fight, fight, every step of the way, to give her the biggest album of her life, and I’m so proud that we had that fight. I’m Coming Out has historically meant something to the LGBTQ+ community, which is exactly how I got the idea that first place.”

Phil Bowdery

“He works his butt off. He’s the sweetest, sweetest guy, and we work in a business where I’m fortunate to have worked with some wonderful, charming people. I’d like to say a few things about him because he’s just so awesome. He’s been a part of my life for a number of years now. He’s celebrating his 50th year in the business, which is amazing to me. And I just want to give thanks to him for being one of the loveliest guys I know. Happy 50th Phil, I love you. David [Bowie] always called me ‘Darling’? Well, Phil always calls you ‘love’. I just want to say, ‘Thank you, love,’ to Phil Bowdery.”

 


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60 years of SSE Arena, Wembley celebrated in pictures

Heroes – the Exhibition, a photographic exploration of the sixty-year history of the SSE Arena, Wembley, is opening to the public on Thursday 28 November at Getty Images Gallery, Wembley Park.

The exhibition will feature over 100 photographs of artists at the London music venue, which celebrated its busiest year yet in 2018.

From 1960s snaps of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, to more recent images of Kendrick Lamar, Queens of the Stone Age and the Prodigy, the exhibition will cover the arena’s rich musical history. Other artists to feature in the collection include David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Whitney Houston, Queen, Prince, Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Rihanna.

Words by the arena’s vice president and general manager John Drury accompany the photos, which are taken by renowned music photographer Michael Putland and former and current Getty photographers Dave Hogan and Brian Risac, among others.

“Over the past 60 years The SSE Arena, Wembley has earned its place as one of the most iconic live music venues in the world,” comments Drury. “There is a chemistry that keeps bringing artists and fans back, that feeling of connection, passion, and shared experience.

“Heroes brilliantly captures the magic on stage and in the audience that could happen nowhere else”

“Playing Wembley for the first time is a special milestone in any artist’s career and each show builds on its legendary status. That is what Heroes brilliantly captures, the magic on stage and in the audience that could happen nowhere else.”

Built in 1934, the arena in Wembley – originally known as the Empire Pool – has been a live music venue for over six decades. Following a £26 million refurbishment, the arena reopened in 2006, taking the name of the SSE Arena, Wembley in 2014.

“Wembley Park has always been about people coming together to share experiences, and The SSE Arena, Wembley is central to this,” says Josh McNorton, cultural director of Wembley Park.

“Over the past 60 years, it has played an enormous part in the cultural history of the area and in global music history, and Heroes is a great way to celebrate this through the performances of some of the world’s most famous performers.”

The exhibition is open every day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Getty Images Gallery, Wembley Park. Admission is free for the first three days. All photographs are available for purchase, priced from £70 to £648.

 


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Stones, Bowie business manager Rascoff dies

Joseph Rascoff, the co-founder of Rascoff Zysblat Organization (RZO) and business manager to The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Paul Simon, U2, Sting, Shania Twain and David Byrne, has passed away aged 71.

The news was announced by long-time business partner Bill Zysblat, with whom Rascoff (pictured) founded RZO in 1987. He died yesterday “surrounded by family”, Pollstar quotes Zysblat as saying.

RZO represents financially an estimated 30 music clients – as well as the estate of Bowie, who died last January  and including in the live space, working with promoters on tours such as Sting’s 57th & 9th.

“Joe Rascoff was one of the good guys in a tough business”

In addition to his work with RZO, Rascoff was chairman of live entertainment at SFX Entertainment (now LiveStyle) until February 2015, by which he was owed an estimated US$350,000 when it went under last February. (He is still listed as being on LiveStyle’s board of directors.)

Nederlander Concerts CEO Alex Hodges tells IQ Rascoff was “one of the good guys in a tough business”. “He did the biz managing for some of my clients when I was an agent,” he explains. “Sad news. [He was] too young.”

The funeral will be at 9am this Sunday (9 April) at Hillside, 6001 West Centinela Avenue, in Los Angeles.

 


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Bowie honoured in tribute concerts

After a David Bowie tribute gig at London’s Brixton Academy on Sunday, an EP has been released of the late star’s final recordings and European concert film screening dates announced.

Today would have been Bowie’s 70th birthday and the occasion was celebrated over the weekend by a number of superstar artists playing a three-hour show in his birthplace of Brixton. Similar events also took place in New York, Los Angeles, Sydney and Tokyo.

The London tribute was held in aid of Children and the Arts charity, and Bowie’s keyboardist Mike Garson and tour band members guitarist Mark Plati and bassist Gail Ann Dorsey opened the show with Gary Oldman.

It’s one year since Bowie died of cancer on January 10th just after the release of his 25th studio album, Blackstar.

Simon Le Bon, La Roux, Keane frontman Tom Chaplin, Tony Hadley, Fishbone’s Angelo Moore and Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott all made an appearance for select songs from Bowie’s back catalogue.

It’s one year since Bowie died of cancer on January 10th just after the release of his 25th studio album, Blackstar.

Today an EP, No Plan, has been released. The four-song set includes Blackstar song Lazarus, as well as three songs written for the musical he composed of the same name.

On March 7, documentary and concert film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars will screen in cinemas across Europe.

The film features Bowie and his band performing at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in July, 1973. Mojo magazine is working with CinEvents to host the screening, which will include a new film featuring an interview with Spiders From Mars drummer Woody Woodmansey.

 

 


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IQ remembers the musical talent lost in 2016

The deaths in December of George Michael and Status Quo founder Rick Parfitt have brought 2016 to a sad end. Quite simply, none of us can remember a year that claimed so many celebrities, with barely a week going by without the news of some musician who had helped to shape the lives of at least some of us.

While the likes of David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen might steal most of the headlines, we thought it would be an idea to remind everyone of the breadth of artistry to which the world has said goodbye, from the young members of Viola Beach, who perished along with their manager in a car accident in February, and the murder of Christina Grimmie in June, to conductor and composer Harry Rabinowitz, who celebrated his 100th birthday just three months before his death. 

25 December: George Michael, aged 53

24 December: Rick Parfitt, 68

11 December: Valerie Gell, 71

7 December, Greg Lake, 69

24 November: Colonel Abrams, 67

21 November: Jean Shepard, 82

20 November: Craig Gill, 44

18 November: Sharon Jones, 60

13 November: Leon Russell, 74

7 November, Leonard Cohen, 82

25 October: Bobby Vee, 73

23 October: Pete Burns, 57

8 October: Phil Chess, 95

5 October: Joan Marie Johnson, 72

5 October: Rod Temperton, 66

2 October: Sir Neville Marriner, 92

24 September: Stanley Dural Jr., 68

21 September, John D. Loudermilk, 82

1 September: Fred Hellerman, 89

28 August: Juan Gabriel, 66

24 August: Billy Paul, 80

20 August: Matt Roberts, 38

9 August: Padraig Duggan, 67

6 August: Pete Fountain, 86

16 July: Alan Vega, 78

28 June: Scotty Moore, 84

24 June: Bernie Worrell, 72

22 June: Harry Rabinowitz, 100

17 June: Attrell Cordes, 46

10 June: Christina Grimmie, 22

3 June: Dave Swarbrick, 75

21 May: Nick Menza, 51

17 May: Guy Clark, 74

21 April: Prince, 57

12 April: David Gest, 62

11 April: Emile Ford, 78

6 April: Merle Haggard, 79

22 March: Phife Dawg, 45

20 March: Andy ‘Thunderclap’ Newman, 73

16 March: Frank Sinatra Jr., 72

14 March: Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, 81

11 March: Keith Emerson, 71

10 March: Ernestine Anderson, 87

8 March: Sir George Martin, 90

5 March: Nikolaus Harnoncourt, 86

4 March: Joey Feek, 40

25 February: John Chilton, 83

15 February: Denise Matthews, 57

13 February: Kris Leonard, 20; River Reeves, 19; Thomas Lowe, 27; Jack Dakin, 19; Craig Tarry, 33

 4 February: Maurice White, 74

28 January: Paul Kantner, 74

26 January: Colin Vearncombe, 53

18 January, Glenn Frey, 67

17 January: Dale Griffin, 67

16 January: René Angélil, 73

10 January: David Bowie, 69

7 January: Kitty Kallen, 93

5 January: Pierre Boulez, 90

4 January: Robert Stigwood, 81

Touring expos-ed

Eamonn Forde discovers the latest string to the touring exhibitions’ bow…

There is a post-Napster and post-Spotify maxim in the music business that touring used to be the loss-leader to sell albums, and now that has been inverted so that albums are the loss-leaders to sell tours. How can that revenue be maximised if the act splits up, has passed away or fancies a few years lazing around in one of their multiple homes? By putting everything around them – clothes, artwork, instruments, scribbled lyrics, old contracts, unseen photos – on the road as they slipstream the boom in the touring exhibitions space.

Music is, relatively speaking, late to the party here but, as with most things in his career, Bowie was the innovator. His exhibition that opened at the V&A in London in 2013 (David Bowie Is…) proved a watershed moment for music-centric exhibitions, selling out its run, garnering critical praise, and now touring the rest of the world. The Stones’ Exhibitionism has left the Saatchi Gallery in London and go on the road, starting in New York from November. A major Pink Floyd exhibition will open next year, as will one around Abba (whose ‘touring’ since their split in 1982 was confined to the Mamma Mia! jukebox musical). It is suddenly getting very busy here.

What can music exhibitions learn from those already in the field? What can they do right? What are the mistakes they are likely to make? And how much money can they generate? IQ spoke to experts from around the world (dealing in family exhibitions, celebrity exhibitions, museum exhibitions and more) in order to understand what they do and how they do it.

 


Read the rest of this feature in issue 68 of IQ Magazine.


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Update: Bowie’s ashes NOT scattered at Burning Man

Contrary to E!’s report, David Bowie’s ashes were not scattered at Burning Man, his son, Duncan Jones, has confirmed.


 

David Bowie’s ashes were reportedly scattered at Burning Man – a festival the late singer “loved” – earlier this month with the permission of his widow, Iman.

According to an “insider” quoted by E! News, Iman gave a portion of Bowie’s ashes to one of his godchildren to scatter at a ceremony at the long-running countercultural gathering in the Nevada desert, which this year ran from 28 August to 5 September.

“David’s godchild and David had long talks about Burning Man and what it stands for,” the source said, “and David loved the message behind it.”

“David’s godchild and David had long talks about Burning Man and what it stands for, and David loved the message behind it”

An eyewitness told E! News the 70-person ceremony involved playing Bowie’s music “the entire drive from our camp to the Temple and back” and that “most of us had the Bowie [lightning bolt] face paint on in his honour”.

Burning Man hit headlines last week after its luxury White Ocean camp was attacked by “hooligans”, with raiders stealing and cutting power lines in protest at what they see as a betrayal of the festival’s ethos by those – largely Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs – staying there.

Bowie died of cancer aged 69 on 11 January.

 


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Exclusive: 32,000 stream David Bowie memorial concerts

Last week’s David Bowie tribute concerts in New York were live-streamed by 32,000 people worldwide.

The two The Music of David Bowie gigs, at Carnegie Hall on Thursday 31 March and Radio City Music Hall the following night, could be streamed live over Skype for a recommended minimum donation of US$20 or £15 to the events’ charity partners.

The concerts were the 12th in Knitting Factory founder Michael Dorf’s Music of series, which raises funds for music education programmes for underprivileged children.

Speaking to IQ, Dorf revealed that donations from those 32,000 viewers raised a total of US$45,000 – an impressive sum, even if it does work out to just over $1.40 per stream (seven per cent of the recommended $20).

Performers at the shows included Ann Wilson of Heart, who opened with ‘Space Oddity’, REM’s Michael Stipe, who played a stripped down version of ‘Ashes to Ashes’ accompanied only by a piano and model/backing vocalist Karen Elson, Blondie, who performed ‘Heroes’, Mumford & Sons performing ‘It Ain’t Easy’, Perry Farrell playing ‘Rebel Rebel” and The Flaming Lips, whose frontman Wayne Coyne sang ‘Life on Mars?’ while riding on the shoulders of a man in a Chewbacca costume (because why not).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSYVCWyxl1E

Long-time Bowie producer Tony Visconti also led a house band that included Spiders from Mars drummer Mick ‘Woody’ Woodmansey.

David Bowie died aged 69 on 10 January 2016.