Nile Rodgers says David Bowie’s whiteness meant he had more freedom to experiment with music

Chic co-founder produced two of Bowie’s albums, which included hits including ‘Let’s Dance’ and ‘Modern Love’

Adam White
Tuesday 07 July 2020 19:27 BST
David Bowie offers advice to creatives in 1997 documentary 'Inspirations'

Nile Rodgers has said that David Bowie was able to experiment with music more easily because he was white.

The musician and Chic co-founder said that black artists have historically struggled to escape being “pigeon-holed” in comparison to their white counterparts.

Rodgers told Metro Online: “A lot of artists have become wealthier and more famous quicker, but still black artists are basically… basically you have to drive in one lane and that is something I have always tried to fight.”

He continued: “It’s very difficult because if you’re pigeon-holed and you have to respond a certain way to be part of the current zeitgeist – that’s very difficult.

“When I worked with artists like David Bowie, he told me he never thinks about that. He said ‘I just think about what I’m feeling and what I’m seeing. I never worry about which audience is going to like it’, and I remember saying ‘Jesus, it must be amazing to be white.’”

Rodgers added that Bowie “wasn’t offended” by his comment, and that he “understood it completely”.

Rodgers, who is mentoring a new UK artist as part of a year-long scheme with Apple Music and The Ivors Academy, produced two of Bowie’s albums: 1983’s Let’s Dance and 1993’s Black Tie White Noise.

Among the Bowie tracks Rodgers produced were iconic numbers including “Modern Love” and “Cat People (Putting Out Fires)”.

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