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 Rodgers Gets His Freak On

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Chic guitarist and überproducer Nile Rodgers talks about
working with some of the biggest pop stars of all time --
and battling for his life after being diagnosed with cancer.

by Clark Collis in Entertainment Weekly

Nile Rodgers and Keith RichardsIn the late '70s, Chic had a run of huge hits like "Le Freak" and "Good Times." But the band's career was torpedoed by the "disco sucks" movement. Reading Le Freak, I got the impression that's something you've never gotten over.
We were able to superimpose our stylistic, weird funk on the disco movement, but we didn't understand how we could be called a disco group. It was like if you watch a person who's wrongly accused and convicted, and they go to the gas chamber going, "But I didn't do it!"

Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny
Released on Oct. 18, fabled disco producer Nile Rodgers' book Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny is, according to the author, "not literally a book about music... but one that recovers all the stuff that got packed into my records."
After you became a producer, your first superstar client was Diana Ross. If there's one thing I don't believe in the book, it's your claim that when you first met, she insisted on being taken to a White Castle.
That was one of the best experiences of my life. We drove across the 59th Street bridge to White Castle on Queens Boulevard. We walk in, and this is exactly what the kid said: "All right, I might be able to understand Nile Rodgers coming in here -- although it's going to be hard for me to convince my friends of that -- but I will never be able to tell anybody that Diana Ross came into White Castle."

You complain in the book that David Bowie didn't give you enough credit for producing Let's Dance.
That album was a fantastic experience, probably never to be duplicated in my life. [But] David was on the cover of Time and, like, my name was mentioned once. I was really hurt.

The first time you saw Madonna perform was at New York's Roxy club in 1983 when you were high on cocaine you were openly sharing with a pair of lesbians. I believe if you look up "New York in the '80s" in the dictionary, there's just a photograph of that scene.
That's it! [Laughs] I absolutely wasn't there to see Madonna. I was here to see [R&B singer] Jenny Burton. A lot of people were telling me Madonna was the bomb. I wasn't positive she was the right one for me.

Like a Virgin - Let's DanceBut you went on to produce her Like a Virgin album. What was she like to work with?
I don't think I've ever met an artist so committed to making the records and perfecting the image. For a producer to find artists that wen to work, that's heaven. I can't stop working. I can't even stop talking!

You took so much cocaine in the '80s, you eventually hallucinated that the Mafia had put out a contract on you. Was that when you hit bottom?
Yes. I had gotten so afraid that I had a .45 pistol and a samurai sword. I was hiding in the closet waiting for these guys to come and get me. I never, never took another snort of coke.

You had finished the book when you were diagnosed with prostrate cancer last year. Did you think you wouldn't live to see it's publication?
I'm not that guy. I'm the ultimate optimist. They'll probably be performing an autopsy and I'll want to get up and say, "Hey, let's make a record out of this!"

Are you now cancer-free?
I guess. My last checkup seemed to go fine. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself. Other times I feel grateful that I have had an amazing life. You could live your whole life and just have Let's Dance and, trust me, you would be cool with that. [Laughs] I'm cool. I got Let's Dance. I'm cool.  

 The Bitch Is Back -- And On the Big Screen!

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A new Elton John biopic called 'Rocketman' is about to take off.

by Dave Karger in Entertainment Weekly

Elton John, David Furnish, James McAvoyhirty-six years after making his film debut in the rock opera Tommy, music icon Elton John is now prepping a biopic on his own rise to stardom. Rocketman, written by his Billy Elliot collaborator Lee Hall, will document the 64-year-old Brit's phenomenal success in the 1970s, his battles with drugs and alcohol in the 1980s, and ultimately his search for stability in the 1990s. But Sir Elton's spouse and production partner, David Furnish, says Rocketman won't be a traditional biopic like Ray (Ray Charles) or Walk the Line (Johnny Cash). "It's going to be told from a much more of a fantastical standpoint," he says. "The storytelling won't be linear -- it will go back and forth in time. It'll be Elton's life reimagined as how he might like to remember it, rather than how it really happened." While Furnish and John search for a director (possible contenders include pals like Baz Luhrmann or Stephen Daldry), they'll also have to find an actor who can embody the pop star over several decades. One name that's already cropped up: James McAvoy. "He's a good candidate!" Furnish says. "We worked with James on Gnomeo & Juliet, and he was lovely, so anything's possible." Like hiring several actors, for instance. "I know Elton feels that physically he's changed a lot over the years. So he's said, 'Maybe it's more than one person playing me, like the Bob Dylan film [I'm Not There].'" Whatever the case, there's no denying that it's a life story with more than its fair share of drama. Says Furnish, "We want the film to be big and brash and full of life and Elton."  

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