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Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco and Destiny Hardcover – 20 Oct 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 131 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere (20 Oct. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847443141
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847443144
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.9 x 24.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 317,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


A rich, warm tale of a fascinating life in the golden age of New York and pop --Observer

Book Description

* The astonishing and wildly entertaining memoir of Nile Rodgers: legendary producer and co-founder of the band Chic.

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover
The music of Nile Rogers was the soundtrack to my early adult years. I knew little of the man until I discovered the blog through which he has chronicled his fight with aggressive cancer over the past year.

Beginning with the recollections of a childhood from which few would have emerged unscathed, the narrative moves to Rodgers discovery of a passion and hard earned ability to make music. Influenced by the jazz that had always surrounded his life, he served a musical apprenticeship on Sesame Street before meeting his collaborative partner Bernard Edwards Together their band Chic filled dance floors around the world drawing on influences as diverse as Roxy Music and Kiss.

Chic were soon victims of the abrupt demise of disco but his talent was soon in demand once again on the other side of the mixing desk. An uncanny self belief and ability to distill the essence of popular music led to his first production taking Diana Ross back to the top of the charts and at this point his story and the story of 1980s popular music become one and the same. Working with the fledgling Madonna, a struggling Bowie and his wild nights of excess at Studio 54 are all described with an honesty and openness and which make this an essential read for anyone who wants to get close to one of the most influential musicians of the modern era.

I found Le Freak a compelling read: humorous, sometime shocking, but always engaging and uplifting.

As a postscript, I have been considering why I couldn't quite give five stars when I posted the review (I would have given four and a half if I could). I then heard a radio interview with Niles where he said the original draft was twice as long but his publisher had made him edit it down - The stories in the book are so well told that I am left wondering what gems could have been included in another 150 pages. I'll save the fifth star for the extended 'Nile Rodgers Remix' edition....
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Format: Hardcover
Nile Rodgers (or `Pud' to his family) is a lucky man. Not in terms of his successful musical career as a songwriter and producer, or the long list of people he's worked with, but lucky in fact that he's lived to tell the tale, and what a story it is.
From the age of seven this New York native witnessed his parents injecting themselves on a daily basis, his constant asthma attacks, plus the fact that his mother was always leaving him with another relative, as he said himself "I felt I wasn't good enough to keep".
Add to this the fact that his grandmother was raped and became pregnant as a result; the school caretaker was abusing the children around him. To be a survivor he would have to look after himself, this included skipping school and befriending a wino who'd write sick notes for him. His father had being left at the altar by his mother, turning his dad into a bum on the streets and ironically Nile would run into him, as he says "not once, but twice, 10 years apart in a city of 8 million people".
Moving back to California (so his mother could shake her drug habit), Nile would start glue sniffing, lose his virginity, while his mother would be raped.
Despite all this, it was music he wanted to pursue, and getting that first guitar for Christmas changed everything. Once his mothers' boyfriend tuned it and he could play A Day In The Life, and he never looked back. As he says himself "I strummed and a perfect G-major chord rang out......then strummed an E minor and dropped to the seventh. There are no words to accurately describe what this felt like". This is why he ran away from home at 14, with his guitar, eventually joining the Sesame Street theatrical road show (a 70s version of Glee perhaps).
Not long after his dad died, Nile turned professional.
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Format: Hardcover
I've just finished this. As one might expect from Nile Rodgers, it's a cut above the average autobiography. He doesn't come across as very likeable during his full-on hedonist phase, to be honest. There also remains the occasional narcissism, hero-worship and self-obsession that one often gets with celebrities. However, in contrast to that, he does come across as very loveable. You can see why so many people were drawn to him. I guess that there was much left out of this account of his life, but everyone is entitled to their secrets. One still gets a sense of honesty in his persistent attempt to provide balanced reflections on what was happening. I also admired his refusal to indulge in self-pity or point-scoring.

The cultural importance of the work of Nile Rodgers and his collaborators in Chic (chiefly Bernard Edwards, of course) has been given insufficient recognition. Rodgers is aware of this but he isn't bitter or resentful to any great degree. His generosity of spirit towards others, regardless of colour or any other aspect of culture or background, is a telling indicator of why he managed to achieve so much. It is also in stark contrast to the casual racism that he and Bernard Edwards had to deal with repeatedly over several decades. That they did so with grace and humour is a testament to their decency and maturity and contrasts with the small-mindedness of many of those they dealt with. Accusations of racism are sometimes bandied about too freely these days, but Rodgers' comments about the impact of racism on Chic's achievements in the field of dance music and music more generally strike me as restrained if anything. The 'Disco Sucks' movement was just the tip of a singularly ugly iceberg.
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