Nile Rodgers to auction guitars behind countless dance hits
Before Nile Rodgers became the virtuoso writer-producer-arranger behind the canonical dance hits for Chic, Sister Sledge, Diana Ross, Madonna and more, he was just a student eager to buy his first guitar. While still in school, he went to the local pawnshop in search of a quality but affordable instrument; to his surprise, he met Dr. John, who was trading one of his guitars for cash. “I’m a teenager and I’m panicking!” Rodgers tells Rolling stone.
In the late 1970s, Rodgers was producing irresistible club singles; he could afford to get rid of some of his older instruments and buy new ones. But the memory of seeing Dr. John swap a guitar stuck with Chic’s brain. “Very few of us keep the original guitars we started playing with,” observes Rodgers. For much of his career, he was determined not to spoil his own musical history, retaining as many guitars as possible. Until now.
Rodgers will auction a wide selection of instruments – including over 160 guitars, some of which have contributed to the riffs of Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family”, Chic’s “The Freak”, David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”, “I ‘m Coming Out “and” Get Lucky “by Daft Punk, as well as cars and clothing in December. Christie’s will oversee the auction, with the net proceeds going to the We Are Family Foundation, which Rodgers says “supports kids around the world working on solutions to make this planet a better place.”
Even though Rodgers ultimately decided to get rid of part of his collection, winnowing it was no easy task. “I really have guitars with a fabulous pedigree,” he says. “I have a Django Reinhardt that even Django Reinhardt didn’t have!
Going through the instruments was “very difficult”, he continues, because “I took one, I remembered the song I played on it, and then I got really emotional.” Fortunately, he notes that he owns over 200 guitars, so even after selling the majority of them, he will still have a lot to play.
It was easier for Rodgers to choose cars for auction. While the guitarist’s biggest fans know him primarily for his music, he was also an avid driver and a member of Dodge’s celebrity racing team. “I am passionate about gasoline,” he admits. “But I’m recovering. Just like I was an acid enthusiast, but I won’t drop acid anymore, I won’t go 200 miles an hour. Now he’s taking Uber everywhere, as part of his mission to “be the greenest life possible.”
So he’s ready to say goodbye to a Porsche 911 Slantnose Turbo Targa, one of the seven made. “The Porsche has a lot of rock and roll history,” says Rodgers. “Gene Simmons was with me when I picked him up. Back then, the cops never really bothered me, everyone knew me in the early 80s. ”That meant he could pedal all the way in his new car.
But Simmons wasn’t used to Rodgers Fast and furious driving style. “Finally he said, ‘Nile, I have to throw up!’ Rodgers recalls. “I said, ‘don’t throw up in my brand new car!’ I stopped and let him throw up. Looking back, Rodgers imagines the Porsche would actually be worth more if Simmons had vomited in the vehicle. But looking back, it’s still 20/20.
The final installment of Rodgers’ auction will focus on parts of her wardrobe. “Everything I have always had since the early days of Chic; all perfectly preserved in lockers, ”he notes. “When they came and looked at my closet, they were overwhelmed.”
The auction gave Rodgers a chance to rediscover some of his most groovy clothes. “After trying them on and taking pictures, I was like, ‘wait a minute, I want to wear this! You are walking down the street and people are wondering ‘where did you get this?’ ”
The live auction will take place on December 16 in New York City.