The Top 20 Rock Guitarists, #5 Nile Rodgers

It is not an exaggeration to say that Nile Rodgers is one of the most important figures in Western music. His writing, producing, and performing have launched various artists (including David Bowie, Duran Duran, Madonna and Jeff Beck) to the biggest albums of their careers and have resulted in over 100,000,000 in sales.

100 million albums, not dollars.

His work in the 70’s was relentlessy sampled for the next 30 years helping form and fuel the hip-hop movement.

“But he doesn’t play lead,” some will say.

At this point, the list has omitted the latest obscure jazz fusion player, or Youtube shredder. As guitarists our obsession with running scales, modes and arpeggios as rapidly as possible to impress other guitarists transforms us into little more than sideshow geeks.

Plus, I’ll let you in on a secret.

He is soloing.

Rodger’s playing is like a virtual orchestra. To an untrained ear (actually even a trained ear at times) Rodgers is a snappy rhythm player. Upon closer examination it becomes apparent that Rodger is constantly moving, precisely inserting chord voicings that make his songs feel fresh.

When combined with his craftsmanship, it becomes apparent that his musicianship is otherworldly. In a way, its a bulked version of Hendrix’s rhythm playing, where the melody, rhythm and at times counter melody are played simultaneously.

We’ll probably never see Nile Rodgers get his proper credit. The session players that make the music we listen to are generally cloaked in relative anonymity. Like it or not, Rodgers is one of the most important musicians out there.


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