Chic – Le Freak
(Chewy Rubs ‘Future Freak Edit)
New York, New Year’s Eve 1977
Nile Rodgers and fellow co-founder of Chic Bernard Edwards have just received a phone call from Grace Jones.
Jones insists the pair come see her perform at Studio 54 that very same night. They should tell the bouncer that they are ‘personal friends of Grace Jones’. A few hours later, the 25 year old Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards inch their way towards the back door of the iconic club as per her instructions.
Nile announces to the bouncer that he and Edwards are ‘personal friends of Grace Jones’.
The bouncer was not convinced.
Despite only having released a couple of records, the duo caught Jones’ attention. A voice purred down the telephone line that Nile describes as a cross between Marlene Dietrich and a pot pourri of every major star,
‘Hello darling, this is Grace Jones’.
After several failed attempts, the disheartened pair head back to Nile’s nearby apartment. Nile grabs his guitar and the pair start jamming a song which they call ‘Aaahhh, fuck off!’- a musical retort to the bouncer.
As the song developed Nile changed the title to ‘Freak Off’, a more radio-friendly alternative.
After some more thought Rodgers decided to jump onto the new dance craze spreading through New York called ‘The Freak’.
So he changed it to a positive song about the dance and ‘Le Freak’ is born.
Have you heard about the new dance craze?
It’s called ‘Le Freak’, they’re doing it night and day
Just come on down to the fifty four
Find your spot out on the floor.
“We were so pissed off at what had happened. I mean, it was Studio 54, it was NewYear’s Eve, it was Grace Jones, and we were wearing the most expensive outfits that we had — back then, in the late ’70s, our suits must have cost us a couple of thousand bucks each, and our really fancy shoes had got soaked trudging through the snow.
“So ‘Fuck Off’ was a protest song, and we actually thought it was pretty good – It had a vibe. I was thinking ‘This could be the anthem of everybody who gets cut off on the street by a cab driver or any kids who want to say this to their parents.’ You know, ‘Hey, I wasn’t saying it, man! I was just playing the record.’
“We really had pretty big designs on completing the song as ‘Fuck Off’. You’ve got to remember, we didn’t think of that prior to sitting down and playing. Once we did sit down and play and started singing that hook, it sounded good; just as good as ‘freak out’. In fact, had we not come up with ‘fuck off’ we would never have written ‘Freak Out’ and some other song would have been our big hit record.
Bernard and I usually wrote the hook of a song first, and then once we felt we had a chorus that would pay off, the rest of the song would follow. So, that night we actually converted it to ‘freak out’. That was part of the process that first night. First, we changed it from ‘fuck off’ to ‘freak off’, and that was pretty hideous.
We were singing it and just stumbling over ‘freak off’, because it was so lame by comparison. Then, all of a sudden it just hit me. For one second the light bulb went on and I sang ‘Aaaaahh, freak out!’