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Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny Hardcover – October 18, 2011

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Frequently Bought Together

Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny + Nile Rodgers presents The Chic Organization: Boxset Vol. 1 / Savoir Faire + The Chic Organization: Up All Night
Price for all three: $73.45

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau; 1St Edition edition (October 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385529651
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385529655
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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
“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)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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He is a very good story teller.
O. Bren
I was impressed that she'd met him, but I really didn't understand just how impressive Nile Rodgers is until I read this book.
Stylish, appealing, R&B Dance music.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Pasiphae on October 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
An excerpt in the New York Times magazine had me excited to read this autobiography, in which Nile Rodgers maintains a bemused and conversational tone. He was born to a 13 year-old mother, raised by an assortment of relatives, and ran around both coasts as a skinny, brainy, insomniac, asthmatic child with a gift for music and a knack for survival. Dealers, users, hit men all make appearances, and are taken in stride as just part of his young life.

Even if he hadn't become the successful artist and producer, his early years make for a great story, though he bounces around a bit in the telling of it. The book really comes to life when Rodgers talks about his role in the rise of disco and the world of the New York dance club scene. That part of the story reads like the fall of the Roman Empire, a last-days bacchanal.

When disco "died" (though of course, as Rodgers points out, it never really did), he could have retired forever on his earnings, but he brought his music back working as a hit-maker for artists like David Bowie, INXS, Duran Duran, Madonna, and more. He offers his experience with of music's heavy hitters, and his portraits of David Bowie, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Madonna are candid and believable. He's not dropping names; he's just talking candidly about his friends. His portraits are honest but diplomatic. In other words, even while discussing drug binges or wild times, Nile Rodgers is a gentleman.

I remembered while reading this that my sister had met him years ago while he was producing the first Dan Reed Network record in NY. She said he was quiet, funny, brilliant, and that he never seemed to sleep. He told her the pretty guys with the braids weren't doing the singing for Milli Vanilli, and I remember being shocked by that.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Kindred VINE VOICE on September 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm not here to praise disco or to bury it. I lived through it and danced quite a bit if I remember... back then I didn't worry about who produced what or who wrote this or that, but even I knew of Nile Rodgers. I was even more aware of him as the eighties wore on and knew that he was responsible for some monster albums (as we called them in the olden days). He was just `that' guy who worked with everyone who was anyone or who would soon be anyone. Just as he was responsible for so many songs that make you tap your toes or rock your hips even against your will. You can't help it. He even wrote We Are Family. I'll try to forgive him.

His memoir is written with great humor and verve. With his life starting the way it did this book needs the humor. He doesn't get bogged down in the minute details that kill so many memoirs, it reads like a dream. And if you're in your, uh, late youth, it will read a little like a history of your party days although certainly he partied harder, if not the best.

In the first part of the book you will want to rescue this little awkward boy from his family and give him cookies and a warm bed. But, is this childhood what made him great? If he had been cared for and taken care of would he had gone out on his own and discovered his genius? Do you forgive a mother who simply didn't seem to be able to live the `normal' life? He does, with awesome grace.

What about the drugs and alcohol? Did they mold him into a musical virtuoso? Or would he have found even greater success without them? He makes no apologies for the excess. As he said, he loved drugs. They just didn't return the favor. Though he does apologize for being a walking cliché. Accepted. You were, after all, kind of the template for that lifestyle.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By D. S. HARDEN VINE VOICE on September 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Nile Rodgers.

Along with the late Bernard Edwards, the architect of the "Chic Sound" that dominated the late seventies.

A biography.

A movement.

A time where Nile (and Bernard) took us musically where we'd never been before.

Nile, with great clarity, gives us the details in which he came into this world, and how, ulitmately, music came into his world - and for people like me, being ever-the-more grateful for it!

As in many biographies, there are the high points and low points, the successes and failures - which is to be expected. Nile shows that, as in life, "the show goes on - get on with it!"

I will not provide any spoilers on this review. I'll leave that to the others. I feel privileged that, as a member of Amazon Vine, that I got a first peek at Mr. Rodger's story. A true, American rags-to-riches story that which I hope that others can learn.

The writing style worked, it's as if Nile was sitting in the room with you, having a casual conversation! Good job! I read this in 2.5 days (I DO have to work!)

Overall a great story - thanks, Mr. Rodgers!

I rate "Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny" five stars!

Personal Note:

Understand. If it sounds like I'm biased, it's true. I am a "Chic Freak." I can recall exactly where I was when I heard Chic's "Le Freak" for the first time. It as a Friday evening (6:45pm). I was coming home from work and was on the downhill portion of La Cienega Blvd., passing what would eventually be called "Kenneth Hahn" Park (named after the multi-term Los Angeles County Supervisor). I heard the "awwwwwwwwwwwww Freak out!
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