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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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Nile Rodgers, Brian Eno and more back climate charities

A number of world-renowned artists have lent their support to the industry’s leading climate change charities.

To mark last week’s Earth Day (22 April), more than 100 artists including Nile Rodgers, Coldplay and Metronomy released exclusive tracks on Bandcamp, with proceeds going to Brian Eno’s climate change charity, EarthPercent.

Both Eno and Rodgers are due to appear at this week’s International Live Music Conference (ILMC), with the former participating in a keynote conversation at the Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI) and the latter to be interviewed by former Dire Straits manager Ed Bicknell.

Eno says EarthPercent’s Earth Day campaign on Bandcamp “brings artists together to offer exclusive tracks to their fans, to be sold on behalf of climate justice and environmental protection organisations. This is what unleashing the power of music in service of the planet looks like”.

The proceeds from each track will go towards EarthPercent’s five core areas of work: greening music, energy transition, climate justice, legal and policy change, and protecting nature.

“This is what unleashing the power of music in service of the planet looks like”

Alongside EarthPercent, Eno has also supported the launch of Music Declares Emergency‘s new US chapter, along with Billie Eilish, Bon Iver and Arcade Fire.

Music Declares Emergency (MDE), a group dedicated to guiding the music industry’s response to the global climate and ecological emergency, is also backed by The 1975, Major Lazer, The Pretenders, Annie Lennox, Tom Morello and Tom Odell.

Initially started in the UK in 2019, MDE is now also operational in France, Germany, Switzerland, Chile and Canada. It’s gathered over 6,000 signatures from across the music industry on a declaration that calls for an immediate governmental response to do more to combat climate change.

A statement said: “Now, more than ever is the time for the United States to loudly and proactively join the rally to curb and reverse greenhouse gas emissions.

“The climate crisis is the greatest challenge of our time, and the power of music should take its place at the forefront of this important movement to create a safer, fairer, more sustainable world. The climate crisis is about science, not politics. There is #NOMUSICONADEADPLANET.”

 


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Nile Rodgers to be interviewed by Ed Bicknell at ILMC 34

In what might be the biggest Breakfast Meeting ever seen at ILMC, Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, Songwriters Hall Of Fame, Grammy and Ivor Novello awarded guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer Nile Rodgers will be interviewed by former Dire Straits manager Ed Bicknell at the forthcoming ILMC (International Live Music Conference).

Having worked with a who’s who of contemporary music including David Bowie, Madonna, Diana Ross, Duran Duran, Daft Punk and Lady Gaga. Rodgers is a genre-defying musician whose career stretches over five decades. The Chic co-founder has written, produced and performed on albums that have sold over 500 million units worldwide, and 75 million singles, and in 2018, he co-founded Hipgnosis Songs with Merck Mercuriadis.

His unforgettable live performances with CHIC cover his entire discography and have been included in “festival best performances” at both Glastonbury and Coachella resulting in a BBC Music Awards nomination for “Best Live Performance”, and the LA Times stating, “Nile Rodgers influence stretches all over Coachella, beaming the sound of a better future”.

Meanwhile, Ed Bicknell is a highly successful music manager, best known for working with Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits, Gerry Rafferty, Bryan Ferry, Scott Walker and The Blue Nile.

“No one has as many different perspectives on the music business as Nile… it’s going be a truly memorable conversation”

ILMC head Greg Parmley says: “Between Hipgnosis, writing, recording, launching roller-skating pop-up parties, performing in support of the Ukraine crisis, and a huge summer of upcoming live shows, we’re honoured that Nile has found time to come over for ILMC. No one has as many different perspectives on the music business as Nile… it’s going be a truly memorable conversation.”

ILMC 34 will take place at London’s Royal Garden Hotel from 26-29 April 2022. Other sessions include a Hot Seat interview with global live agency head Casey, and renowned musician, producer and visual artist Brian Eno in conversation with acclaimed singer-songwriter and producer Aurora, as part of the Green Events & Innovations Conference, which takes place within ILMC this year.

Other confirmed speakers include Phil Bowdery (Live Nation), Lucy Dickins (WME), John Giddings (Solo Agency), Jessica Koravos (Oak View Group), Obi Asika (UTA), Alex Hill (AEG) and Stephan Thanscheidt (FKP Scorpio).

ILMC has been the foremost meeting place for live music professionals worldwide for over 30 years. Over 1,000 delegates from 40 markets are expected to attend this year’s in-person event.

The (Late) Breakfast Meeting with Nile Rodgers takes place on Thursday 28 April at 16:50 BST.

Full information about the conference including schedule, events and partners is at 34.ilmc.com

 


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Gallagher, Rogers, Weller and more for 20th TCT shows

Teenage Cancer Trust has announced four of the acts set to play its annual fundraising concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London this 23–29 March.

Headlining the 20th edition of the charity shows are electronic duo Groove Armada, Welsh rockers Stereophonics (with special guest Paul Weller), Noel Gallagher’s High-Flying Birds and funk pioneers Nile Rodgers and Chic, on 25, 26, 27 and 29 March, respectively, with more acts still to be announced.

The Who frontman Roger Daltrey CBE, a longtime Teenage Cancer Trust patron, says: “Once again, we’ve got some incredible artists on the bill for 2020, and I can’t thank them enough for giving up their time for Teenage Cancer Trust. Since the first gig back in 2000, audiences have raised millions to fund Teenage Cancer Trust nurses, support teams and special hospital wards that have helped young people cope with some unimaginably hard times. Without Teenage Cancer Trust these specialist services would simply not be there.

“I’ve seen firsthand the difference this support makes to so many young people with cancer over the years, and I’m beyond proud to be a part of the Teenage Cancer Trust team. Everyone who’s helped us achieve this is a hero in my book, and I’d like to thank everyone who has got us this far.

“Teenage Cancer Trust started out 30 years ago to change everything for young people with cancer. And that’s exactly what we’ve done. But we want a world where cancer doesn’t stop young people from living their lives-there’s so much more we need to do.

“This age group deserves these facilities and programmes in our NHS, but without your support for this charity they would not exist. By buying a ticket to these shows you will be helping this great cause do exactly that.”

“We’re incredibly grateful for the amazing support from the artists getting involved in our 2020 gigs”

Before Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT) was established in 1990, there was no specialist cancer care for teenagers and young adults. Those aged 13-24 were being treated on adult wards, or in children’s wards, and this could cause additional stress and trauma, according to TCT. Many felt alone and isolated, as it was likely they’d never meet another person their age with cancer.

Today, around half of all young people with cancer are treated on 28 TCT wards across the UK, by specialist nurses and youth support teams. Almost every young person with cancer can get support from specialist TCT nurses wherever they live.

“The leap forward in care that Teenage Cancer Trust has been able to provide to young people facing cancer over the past 30 years has only been possible thanks to our generous supporters, including our Royal Albert Hall artists and audiences,” explains Kate Collins, CEO of Teenage Cancer Trust. “But much more needs to change, and we can’t wait another 30 years for that to happen.

“That’s we’re incredibly grateful for the amazing support from the artists getting involved in our 2020 gigs. It’s going to be an unforgettable experience and will help us support every young person with cancer who needs us.”

Around 100 young people who’ve been supported by Teenage Cancer Trust will enjoy the ‘ultimate backstage experience’ during the 2020 shows, which includes meet and greets with the acts, as well as the chance to write and perform their own song and appear on stage alongside Daltrey to share their TCT experiences.

Tickets go on sale this Friday (24 January) at 9.30am via Ticketmaster, Gigs and Tours and the Royal Albert Hall website.

 


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Therapists develop mental health guide for touring

The Music Industry Therapist Collective (MITC), a group of psychotherapists with a background in the live music industry, is seeking funding for a best practice guide tackling mental health issues in the business.

The group is aiming to raise £21,774 over the next 55 days to create an “in-depth, clinically sound practical manual to support and guide all those who struggle with mental health on tour.”

The 300-page Touring and Mental Health Manual will offer guidance on how to handle psychological difficulties that arise from touring, such as loneliness; drug-induced psychosis; performance anxiety; addiction; stress and burn-out; trauma; and post-tour depression.

Agent-turned-psychotherapist Tamsin Embleton, who founded MITC, recently told IQ that the “competitive, turbulent and stressful” nature of touring life, as well as “long working hours, poor boundaries between social and work life, and easy access to drink and drugs” can often make those in the entertainment industry susceptible to mental health-related issues.

“This is a vital and most welcomed resource for our industry and touring community”

“This is a vital and most welcomed resource for our industry and touring community,” comments Eric Mtungwazi, managing director of mental health charity Music Support.

“Understanding how to look after your mental health and wellbeing, and knowing how to pre-empt and respond to some of the unique challenges on the journey, is a critical to thriving and working sustainably in the music industry.”

Nile Rodgers, who will be crowned Artists’ Artist at the Artist and Manager Awards in November, comments that “being away from home and loved ones can be incredibly hard work mentally” while in the fast-paced touring environment.

“Having what is effectively a mental health wellness manual to keep yourself in check is a wonderful initiative,” says Rodgers.

Donations to the Touring and Mental Health Manual can be made here. Rewards including digital and physical copies of the manual, mental health training and a logo on the sponsors’ page of the guide are available for those who donate.

Any funds raised over the target amount will go towards creating a non-crisis mental health fund, offering medium- and long-term therapeutic support to those in need.

Read more about how the music business is fighting mental illness here:

A High Cost: How the biz is fighting back against mental illness

 


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Tramlines names Nulty stage in honour of late director

The main stage at Sheffield’s Tramlines festival will be renamed ‘Nulty’s Main Stage’ to honour the festival’s late co-founder and director, Sarah Nulty.

Nulty helped to found Tramlines in 2009 and became festival director in 2013. She died aged 36, just three weeks before the festival’s tenth anniversary, following a short illness.

“Sarah was the driving force behind the festival, so it felt completely fitting to rename the main stage in her honour and as a memorial for everything she’s done for us,” comments festival organiser, Danielle Gigg.

“We will continue to raise money for Weston Park Cancer Charity and Cavendish Cancer Care who both helped her so much.”

“Sarah was the driving force behind the festival, so it felt completely fitting to rename the main stage in her honour”

Last year, Tramlines raised £30,000 for the cancer charities through the sale of ‘Be More Nulty’ merchandise. The festival will continue to pay tribute to its co-founder this year through the merchandise, as well as the return of ‘Nulty’s Bar’.

Since her passing, Nulty has received several prizes for her contribution to the industry including an Outstanding Contribution Award from the Association of Independent Festivals and a Civic Award from the Lord Mayor of Sheffield. A memorial plaque was also unveiled on the original site of the Tramlines main stage.

The UK Festival Awards honoured Nulty with an Outstanding Contribution to Festivals Award and created a new category, the ‘Sarah Nulty Women in Festivals Award’.

Tramlines 2019 takes place from Friday 19 to Sunday 21 July. Headliners include Two Door Cinema Club, the Courteeners and Nile Rodgers and Chic. The festival moved to 40,000 capacity Hillsborough Park last year.

 


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