Man about Town: Stars of the 70s show their class

Nile Rodgers and Claudia Lennear are enjoying their moment back in the spotlight


There was no beating the crowd outside the Savoy. We’d taken a boat along the Thames from the Brit Awards at the O2 Arena Dome, hoping to saunter straight into the Warner Belvedere after party, but the scrum outside had other ideas.

No one was getting in and, as it was only 11.45pm and the party was just starting, no one was leaving. In the end it fell upon a friend (who had helped sponsor the event, so had some sway) to sneak our group into the hotel via a side entrance.

One reason for the crowds (inside was just as crammed as out) was that Nile Rodgers and Chic were due to play at midnight. They haven’t had a hit since the 1970s, with their frontman finding more success as a producer for other bands than as a musician in his own right. But on Wednesday they were one of the hottest tickets in town. This is down to the great Rodgers revival of 2013, when he was signed up by electro duo and mask-fetishists Daft Punk for their hugely successful latest album, Random Access Memories.

Having provided the backbone to the song of last year – “Get Lucky”, with the French electronic duo and Pharrell Williams, the dreadlocked one was suddenly cool again. On Wednesday night, even Kylie Minogue got up and performed with him.

Also enjoying something of a renaissance are the backing singers celebrated in the new documentary 20 Feet from Stardom, some of whom I met at a party after The Bafta awards on Sunday (there have been lots of “after parties” this week...). Among them was Claudia Lennear, another successful artist from the 70s who combined solo work with providing backing vocals to some of the biggest names in music. As I wrote yesterday, she is said to be the inspiration for songs by both The Rolling Stones and David Bowie, but despite reaching prominence gave up the music business for the more reliable and (for her) fulfilling career of teaching. But now she, like Rodgers, finds herself thrust into the limelight once more.

Both come across as charming and appear to be enjoying their moments back in the spotlight with a sense of mature amusement. And both are a reminder that while cool is temporary, class is permanent.

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