Created era-defining hits such as "Dance, Dance, Dance", "Everybody Dance", "Le Freak", "I Want Your Love" and "Good Times".
With Nile Rodgers, Bernard Edwards was responsible for writing and producing the songs for their band Chic, including the hits "Dance, Dance, Dance", "Everybody Dance", "Le Freak", "I Want Your Love" and "Good Times.” The team also wrote and produced hits for other artists such as Norma Jean Wright, Sister Sledge, Sheila and B. Devotion, Diana Ross, Johnny Mathis, Debbie Harry and Fonzi Thornton, with major hits including “He’s the Greatest Dancer” and “We Are Family” (both for Sister Sledge) and “I’m Coming Out” (Diana Ross). Edwards was also a superb bass player, as noted by Kathy Sledge in a shout-out to him in “We Are Family.” Writing and producing solo, he provided Ross with her hit “Telephone.”
Edwards was born October 31, 1952 in Greenville, N.C., and grew up in Brooklyn. He met Rodgers in the early 1970s when both worked as musicians in the Sesame Street touring theatrical show. They formed a funk rock band called The Boys and then in 1972, the Big Apple Band, which served as a backup for the soul group New York City, which had the hit “I’m Doing Fine Now.” They also worked with artists including Ashford & Simpson and Luther Vandross, and in 1976, formed Chic—also with Boys’ drummer Tony Thompson, keyboardist Raymond Jones and singer Norma Jean Wright.
Chic dominated the disco, funk and soul genres through 1983. That year Edwards released a solo album (Glad to Be Here), and two years later helped form the supergroup Power Station, which he produced and also starred drummer Thompson, hit vocalist Robert Palmer and Duran Duran’s John and Andy Taylor. He produced Palmer’s hit album Riptide in 1985 and also worked with the likes of Diana Ross, Adam Ant, ABC, Missing Persons, Nona Hendryx, Rod Stewart, Grayson Hugh, Air Supply, ABC and Duran Duran.
Having disbanded when disco waned, Chic regrouped in the early ‘90s and released the album Chic-Ism in 1992. Edwards died of pneumonia after performing with Chic at Tokyo’s Budokan Arena in 1996 and was honored posthumously in 2005 with his induction into the Dance Music Hall of Fame.
Meanwhile, his bass line from “Good Times” has hugely influenced musicians of all genres, most notably Queen, who employed it on “Another One Bites the Dust.” The song itself was credited on Sugarhill Gang’s 1979 groundbreaking rap hit “Rappers Delight,” and was also the foundation for Grandmaster Flash’s “Adventures on the Wheels of Steel.” Additionally, it has been sampled many times by artists of many genres, with Duran Duran’s bassist John Taylor, who has named Edwards as his main influence, performing it regularly during solo gigs.