(Nottingham November 21, 2004) Daryl Easlea worked as a music retailer beginning at Disco's height in 1979, and ending in the latter part of the 1990's. He has a degree in American Studies and International History and while getting that he ran the student radio station. He has been the deputy editor of Record Collector Magazine, as well as a regular contributor to several of the UK's top music publications, such as Mojo and Mojo and Q specials. He has also written for The Guardian newspaper, BBCi and The Encyclopaedia of Popular Music. He also works as a DJ and at daytime as the head of catalogue publicity at Universal Music in the UK.
He is now getting ready for the publishing date of his book, the CHIC bible, Everybody Dance: CHIC & The Politics Of Disco.' ChicTribute.com's collaborator Glen Russell has caught up with this multitalented guy for a chat about that hotly awaited item.
Glen; Earlier this evening I had a pleasant 30 min. chat on the phone with author Daryl Easlea, just before he was about to have dinner with some family members.
Hi Daryl
Hi Glen
Now that the book is completed, is there a sense of relief & pride you feel for the book?
Yes, I'm delighted it's finished. The date for release of the book is now Dec. 1.
What inspired you to write the book? Was it CHIC's lack of recognition in some quarters?
Largely, yes. It grew out of a feature I wrote for Mojo Collections in 2001. The group's anonymity has led writers possibly to believe that their story isn't interesting. Their invisibility has not aided their longevity as performers, yet their music remains ubiquitous.
Arguably the most sampled group/producers of all time, why do you think it's taken over 20 years for any book to be written since CHIC, both as a band & as an organisation, disbanded? Is it the "disco's not serious music" label again?
Possibly. I really thought it would have happened. I was delighted it hadn't, 'cos I could do it!
What would you hope to achieve writing the book?
That it reopens discussions on the group's merits and worth.
Would you describe the book as definitive of the Chic legacy?
It's certainly close to it. The book is really the story of CHIC against the backdrop of disco. If you want an exhaustive critique of the entire disco movement, please look at other books such as "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life" or Love Saves The Day."
How personal is the book?
It's from the heart. I always aim to write with the appropriate balance of fact and passion.
Anyone who read your obituary on original CHIC drummer, Tony Thompson, in the Guardian would've been able to tell you were a fan. When did you realise you were a fan?
From early 1979, when I first heard I Want Your Love. The previous singles to my 13-year old ears had been good, but that was the one that had the je ne sais quoi.
Do you have a favourite Rodgers & Edwards track/album?
Well, what a question! Risqué is the most consistent album. You Can't Do It Alone; When You Love Someone and Flashback are pretty special, but if one track had to be on the desert island with me, it would be At Last I Am Free.
Musicians & knowledgeable music fans have acknowledged the CHIC rhythm section. Do you fear it may turn out like the The Funk Brothers that people may not remember their musical prowess as much as their production values?
I think the musical prowess is subconsciously acknowledged every time those records are heard.
Did you meet much resistance? Was everybody you came into contact with helpful?
Virtually everyone was lovely and giving of his or her time. The only constraint was often the lack of time.
Karen Milne gave access to her date book & still plays at The Power Station as an in demand session player. I think it's now known as Vista Studios. She can still recall some of the original fixtures & fittings at the Power Station. She can see Bernard leaning over with Sister Sledge & Tony & Nile laughing in another part of the studio.
Nile & 'Nard were so prolific they had their own room at the Power Station. A memory of Tony Thompson's was that Jon Bon Jovi used to do odd jobs at the studio, as it was owned by his cousin and was on nodding terms with the members of CHIC.
Were you able to track down any backroom engineers who may've worked with Rodgers & Edwards such as Jason Corsaro?
I nearly hooked up with Jason; spoke with Bob Clearmountain, but couldn't get time to hook up for interview; there are recorded quotes from him.
We talked a little about the latest cover tune of a CHIC song
There's the theme tune to "Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway " TV show, I can't remember the name of it (Weekend by Michael Gray), but it's going to be a huge hit, not a no. 1 as Band Aid 20 will be #1. Did you know the original "Saturday" was one of the first songs they shared a co-writing credit with someone else? His name was Bobby Cotter who was the original vocalist of The Big Apple Band. They were also known as the "Boys" and they would open their shows with a cover of Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In Town".
What may appear in the book that might surprise even the most knowledgeable fan?
Nile's early years and the twists and turns that led to CHIC. The definite link between the name 'CHIC' and Kiss.
Is Johnny Mathis the "lost" album featured in the book?
Yes, but there's another lost album out there too. They cut an album with Fonzi Thornton which was never released as they couldn't get an appropriate deal. "I Work For A Livin'" is probably the only track to survive from those sessions. I think some ideas resurfaced on the "Leader" album on the two tracks featuring Nile & 'Nard.
Do you have any ideas for us fans, to proceed regarding getting the Johnny Mathis album released?
I think it's highly unlikely that the album will be released in its original format, but then, stranger things certainly have happened.
What other publications will be reviewing the book?
Record Collector are running an extract. Mojo & Uncut magazine will be running reviews, possibly Q magazine too; hopefully, it will be all over the place!
Was there anything you weren't able to put in the book due to time constraints/lack of space?
It really could have gone on forever. I had to put a cap on it somewhere!
Will there be a revised edition in the future?
You never know, it's a never-ending story!
Thanks for your time Daryl, it's been great talking with you.
Thanks to you & pocat for help with source material & interviews from the ChicTribute website. It's a very good & informative site, a credit to pocat, and thanks also for all the support you've both given too.
So guys, if you're not having a complete nervous breakdown or developing ticks in anticipation of laying your hands on this, for sure, great book about our favorite band, then just read the below extract from the book and you'll probably have to be committed.

Excerpted from Everybody Dance -CHIC- And The Politics Of Disco by Daryl Easlea. Copyright © 2004. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved:
. . . As 1981 dawned, there was little sign of The Chic Organization's workload flagging. There were often short-notice calls placed to the players to come and record. 'We kind of knew beforehand if we were going to be doing a single or an album, with Johnny Mathis or Sister Sledge,' Raymond Jones remembers. 'We did 10 albums, played on a 100 songs in such a remarkably short space of time ­ a glut, you could say.' There were also two aborted projects around this time that have passed into Chic's history. One, the Johnny Mathis album, I Love My Lady, happened. The other, a proposed album with Aretha Franklin, most certainly did not.
'I know that there were several stages when Aretha's career was not going as well as she liked and she was thinking of changing producers,' Ahmet Ertegun recalls. The turn of the 80s was one of them. As Chic were white-hot, they were considered to oversee a change in direction for the Queen Of Soul. 'We never wrote anything for her,' Rodgers remembered. 'We had one meeting with her and we were so turned off, we couldn't believe that Aretha wanted to do disco. Bernard and I were sitting in the Queen Of Soul's house, this beautiful mansion in Los Angeles and she was singing, "I'm going to be the only star tonight down at the disco." And Bernard and I were looking at each other in disbelief, thinking "holy shit! We're with Aretha Franklin and she's telling us she's going to be the only star in the disco tonight. Is she nuts?" We were stunned and dumbfounded. We were sitting at the piano with her and we couldn't say anything. If we told her that was great, she would say "are you kidding me, you want me to sing some shit like this?" We didn't know if it's a joke.'
It did not take them long to decide against the venture. 'We were not going to go down in history as the producers of Aretha Franklin's disco record! In the end, she went with Van McCoy ­ we were shocked he would do it ­ but then, he did write "Do The Hustle" which IS a disco record. I thought of her history and we certainly weren't going to produce her. That was the only time that we ever met her.' However, the Johnny Mathis project, recorded at The Power Station in February 1981, remains one of the great lost Chic moments. In 1980, his management contacted Rodgers and Edwards to produce what was to become I Love My Lady.
Johnny Mathis was a serious player. Since he made his recording debut in 1955, only Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra have had more hit albums in America; he has performed for presidents and dignitaries the world over. In 1958, his fourth album, Johnny's Greatest Hits, became the first record ever to be called 'Greatest Hits' and spent an unbroken 49 weeks on the American chart. He began to take off in Britain, too. He enjoyed his first Top 10 hit in September 1956 with 'A Certain Smile', quickly followed by the enchanting 'Someone', which reached No. 6 the following summer. 'Misty', for many his signature tune, was a transatlantic hit in 1959.
By the 70s, Mathis had become known as much for his golfing as for his music. Looking to the success of Thom Bell and Linda Creed's work with The Stylistics, Mathis covered this material and found the soft soul vibe most suitable for his audience. His version of 'I'm Stone In Love With You', a Top 10 hit for The Stylistics in 1972, took him back to the higher reaches of the UK charts in January 1975. However, Mathis wanted to take a new turn; he wanted to move in a more soulful R&B direction. Duetting with former Stevie Wonder vocalist and 'Free' hit maker Denise Williams gave Mathis his greatest US success since 1963: 'Too Much, Too Little, Too Late' hit the No. 1 spot in both the pop and the R&B charts in April 1978. It was the first duet either singer had recorded. It climbed to the UK Top 3 as well, and led to a Top 20 album, That's What Friends Are For.
Being impressed with the success of the Diana Ross album, Rodgers and Edwards seemed a natural choice to bring some of their magic to Mathis' mix. 'We completed an album with Johnny that was actually great,' Rodgers recalls. 'He had been this big superstar, and then his light dimmed a little, and then he came back after that massive record with Denise Williams. His popularity rekindled, he went on this reckless tear ­ partying and hanging out; it really frightened the people who were closest to him. When we did this record, it was totally exciting and youth-oriented. All his people went "oh my god". At the time I was offended but, in retrospect, I can see that they did a good thing. It'll never see the light of day, it's buried somewhere in the Sony archive.' Columbia (who were to become Sony) felt that whereas it was possible to move Diana Ross down toward the street, Mathis was still too identified with his predominately white, middle-aged audience. It was important that the African-American was not brought out in him. Chic had identified this 'reckless tear' in him, and by using their powers of observational writing, emphasised it.
Fonzi Thornton did the guide vocals for the album, which was to contain eight tracks; 'I Love My Lady', 'I Want To Fall In Love', 'It's All Right To Love Me', 'Judy', 'Love And Be Loved', 'Sing', 'Take Me' and 'Go With The Flow'. It contained all of the key players of the Organization, and it was to be the last time that they were together on record. Mathis himself was an eager participant in the sessions . . .

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special fan section courtesy of Glen Russell e-mail:glen@chictribute.com,
by pocat productions, sthlm 2004. e-mail:pocat@chictribute.com