Those who choose to write off Chic as simply "another disco group" really miss the point. While the group's creative and commercial peak was indeed during the disco-dominated years of 1978-1980, Chic arguably served as the bridge from the James Brown/Sly Stone pioneering funk of the 60s and early 70s to the electronic dance/funk that came to dominate the mid-80s.

Formed in the mid-70s by jazz-trained guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist extraordinaire Bernard Edwards, along with drummer Tony Thompson and singers Norma-Jean Wright and Alfa Anderson, Chic thrust itself onto the scene in 1978 with the novelty club hit "Dance Dance Dance (Yowsah)." While the rather generic voices of Wright and Anderson (and later Luci Martin) were ostensibly up front, there was little question that the foundation of Chic's work was the stripped down, funky arrangements along Edwards' fat bass lines.

The group moved to the forefront of the disco movement in 1979 with perhaps that genre's biggest song, "Le Freak." Chic scored another big hit that year with the mid-tempo "I Want Your Love," then in 1980 released "Good Times," a monumental dance cut and one of the most sampled and copied cuts of the next two decades (including most notably Queen's take on it with "Another One Bites the Dust").

The group's slide was as quick as its ascension, and, despite a few memorable early 80s singles such as "Rebels Are We" and "Stage Fright," Chic was nonexistent by 1984. However Rodgers and Edwards' influence continued stronger than ever. Rodgers arguably became the decade's most prolific producer, and his work with Diana Ross ("Upside Down"), Madonna ("Like a Virgin") and David Bowie ("Let's Dance") was huge. Edwards went on to produce Robert Palmer ("Addicted to Love") and the supergroup Power Station (which included former Chic drummer Thompson).

Chic regrouped briefly in the early 90s, but the reunion ended tragically with the sudden death of Edwards. Rodgers has occasionally recreated the group (with new members) from time to time for limited tours. Rodgers has also formed the We Are Family Foundation, which is designed to "create and support programs that inspire and educate individuals of all ages about diversity, understanding, respect and multiculturalism; and to support those who are victims of intolerance."

By Chris Rizik

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