Why Nile Rodgers didn't want David Bowie's Let's Dance to be a success at first

14 March 2024, 13:25

Nile Rodgers breaks down his most famous songs

The Chic legend collaborated with Bowie on his 1983 single and album of the same name, but revealed he wanted the "credibility" that came with working with the icon before the success.

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Let's Dance is one of David Bowie's most famous singles.

The song, which was released as a single on 14th March 1983 and is taken from the album of the same name, saw the icon collaborate with Nile Rodgers for the first time and was a resounding success.

Though the Chic founder admitted the single "changed" his life, he also revealed he didn't actually want it to be a success at first, because he thought it would give him more credibility.

Speaking to Radio X in our Song CV series, the Le Freak legend recalled: "Let's Dance is probably the single biggest life shift in my career, because prior to doing Let's Dance I had five failures in a row and that was odd for me because my first album was a hit and every single record was a hit up until Diana Ross. I'd never had any failures. Everything was a hit."

David Bowie on the Serious Moonlight Tour in 1983 and Nile Rodgers today.
David Bowie on the Serious Moonlight Tour in 1983 and Nile Rodgers today. Picture: Alamy Stock Photo

Talking about producing The Supremes legend's self-titled album in 1980, he said: "So I do the biggest album of Diana Ross' life and then now from that I can't even get arrested until I meet David Bowie in 1982 some two years later.

He added: "He's down in the dumps, because he's dropped from his label. I'm down in the dumps because I know that I'm about to get dropped from my label and it was just he and I against the world and that feeling of we can rescue each other was so important to me.

The Get Lucky star continued: "Now maybe he might not have felt like that, but I certainly did, because I had fewer lanes open to me than David did. So I knew that Let's Dance had to be a success even though when I started it out, I didn't want it to be a success.

"I thought a failure with David Bowie would give me more credibility than a hit record with Diana Ross, simply because it was a big, white, iconic rock 'n' roll artist and until then I had only done mainly R&B artists and the only white artists I did at that time were very pop like Madonna and Duran Duran.

"INXS were a little bit more avant garde, but Bowie was, you know - I called him the Picasso of rock 'n' roll, much to his chagrin. He hated me saying that, but that's how I used to see him - but it really changed my life's pattern. And what's funny is [...] I had nothing but flops before that for a period of five records and after Let's Dance I had nothing but hits".

READ MORE: How David Bowie's Let's Dance album almost drove a rift between him and Tony Visconti