Nile Rodgers Honors His Idol Jimi Hendrix, Celebrates His 'Hitmaker'

Before Nile Rodgers established himself with CHIC as a hitmaker extraordinaire and genius pop producer, he was a busy teenage working musician in New York City and a personal friend of Jimi Hendrix's.

It's more than apropos that to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster — an instrument that has graced every record Nile or Jimi ever made — Nile would lead an all-star jam on one of Jimi's most iconic songs, "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)."

On the latest episode of the At First Listen podcast, Nile recalled how he befriended Jimi in the late-'60s in the orbit of Electric Lady Studios in Greenwich Village. He noted that, despite being a "super Hendrix fan" that he had never attempted to perform "Voodoo Child" before the Fender celebration, which you can watch via the player at the top of this page.

Nile says it was Jimi's message that had the most profound effect on him.

"The psychedelia and the great lyric writing, I thought was incredible," Nile says, regarding Bold as Love (1968). "Meaning, it actually used to make me sit down and contemplate my own life. It was pretty deep for me. I was around 16 or 17. ...Hendrix spoke to me as an artist and a person for me to idolize. He was really antiestablishment, which I'm marching in that parade all day long. It was the time of the Black Power movement, Women's Rights movement, Gay Empowerment, everything. Just all of these movements, along with the anti-Vietnam movement, that we all felt like we were this gigantic group of likeminded people that wanted just a better, more peaceful world."

Hendrix's influence as a guitarist is omnipresent. And what Jimi did for rock 'n' roll and the blues, Nile continued with dance, hip-hop, R&B and pop, starting in 1973 when he bought his now-iconic 'Hitmaker' Stratocaster, a unique instrument with a sound that defined generations of music, from records by Chic to Sister Sledge, Diana Ross, Madonna, David Bowie, Duran Duran, Sugarhill Gang, Notorious B.I.G., Daft Punk, Beyoncé and many more.

Elsewhere in the At First Listen conversation, Nile offers remembrances of his friendship with Prince, his evolving career as a producer and a deep dive into CHIC's mega-hit sophomore album, C'est Chic.

Listen here with iHeartRadio or via the player above!

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