A Letter from Author Nile Rodgers: The Reason I Wrote Le Freak
I started writing Le Freak
to answer some questions I had about my life. Not the big existential ones, just the facts. I’d asked my mother a question about our early years and her answer would ignite another spark of curiosity rather than provide closure. In no time at all we were off and running like a couple of dog-track greyhounds. The more I wanted to know the more she wanted to tell-- like it was some sort of absolution ritual.
Mom didn’t need to apologize for anything--nor did I--we’d already done that countless times throughout the years. When I started interviewing doctors, institutional historians, family members, and friends I noticed there was a real pattern to this process of rediscovery. Everybody wanted to contribute. My inquiries reminded them that we were all a part of an amazing period in American history.
My early childhood was fascinating in the fifties; my teens were quasi-suicidal in the sixties; young adulthood was sexy in the seventies, and the edginess of the eighties lasted into the mid-nineties. Then that edgy life caught up with me. I only turned away from it when it finally threatened to take away my world’s most precious gift--music.
This isn’t literally a book about music--maybe writing about music really is
like dancing about architecture, as the old saying goes. But if music takes the jumble of life--the love and loss, the excitement and pain--and neatly arranges it into notes and chords and verses and choruses that somehow capture it all, then what I’ve done is a little reverse engineering by recovering all the stuff that got packed into those records, a story that trails around the world and back to a newborn leaving his teenaged mother’s arms on Welfare Island in 1952. So in a way this is a book about music because music is about, well, everything, isn’t it?
“[An] amazing memoir . . . steeped in the incestuous energy of the times: Punk, funk and art rock mixed it up in the downtown clubs, where musicians partied together and shared ideas. . . . Le Freak has plenty of sex and drugs. But it’s the music that makes it essential. . . . Rodgers gave those dreams a beat—and helped invent pop as we know it today.”—Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone
See all Editorial Reviews
“This book is an absolute knockout: exhilarating, warm, and courageous, deeply moving and deeply funny. Le Freak is as much about the greatness of life as it is about Nile Rodgers’s extraordinary musical journey. As Rodgers well knows, the best music is the stuff we feel, the stuff that speaks to us and won’t let go. Le Freak does all that and much more. This is truly one of the best books ever written about art, music, life, and the way we grow to be exactly who we are. Actually, one of the best books period.”—Cameron Crowe
“A coming-of-age tale every bit as impressive as the musical insights and star-time chronicles that follow.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Consistently entertaining . . . His legacy as a funk-rock visionary is assured, and his autobiography serves as further proof that disco does not suck.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“An unforgettable, gripping book.”—The Sunday Times (UK)
“Name a star and you can bet they’re in this book, playing or partying with Rodgers. But far from being a succession of name-dropping anecdotes, this autobiography is a wonderfully funny, moving and wise reflection upon the important things in life: the people you love and the things you create.”—The Sunday Telegraph (UK)
“Rodgers’s page-turning memoir is packed with emotionally charged vignettes of a tumultuous childhood and equally dramatic adulthood that found him awash in cash, cars, and celebrities. . . . His storytelling skills propel the reader through the book, making the ending all the more jarring. Remarkable for its candor, this rags-to-riches story is on the year’s shortlist of celebrity memoirs.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)