Nile Rodgers reflects on music career and success

Nile Rodgers on inspiration, composing music 06:06

One of Nile Rodgers's earliest memories of music is when his grandmother gave him Elvis Presley's "Blue Suede Shoes" record with a pair of his own blue suede shoes when he was just 5 years old.

"She said, 'put on the shoes and now go dance with the company,'" Rodgers recalled on "CBS This Morning" Thursday.

In high school, he began playing the guitar and joined the Sesame Street touring band, then was hired as a house musician for the Apollo Theater. There, he met a young bassist named Bernard Edwards who convinced him to buy his trademark Stratocaster guitar.

"A couple of weeks later, I wrote a song called 'Everybody Dance' and that was the beginning of Chic," Rodgers said.

The funk rock band produced some of the biggest hits of the 1970s. Now, Rodgers and Edwards, his long-time writing partner who died in 1996, are being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Rodgers is a Grammy winner who sold more than 200 million albums and 60 million singles worldwide. For 33 years, he also held the title for the best-selling single in the history of Atlantic Records, selling over seven million copies. But Rodgers said the Songwriters Hall of Fame induction was an honor like no other.

"Because you reign there with people like (George) Gershwin and all these amazing people that are a part of Americana," Rodgers said. "When you're a composer, you're the most anonymous people in the world."

Rodgers has been writing and producing era-defining hits for more than four decades, but is less known than the stars who fronted the songs he composed. Rodgers joked that even his own mother was surprised to learn that he was behind some of music's greatest hits, including "Freak Out," "We Are Family" and "Let's Dance."

Rodgers has collaborated with pop music icons including Diana Ross, Sister Sledge, Madonna and David Bowie. Rodgers said his experience working with David Bowie changed his life.

"I had no record deal, David had no record deal. Believe it or not, he paid for that record himself and we did it in 17 days, start to finish, never touched it again," Rodgers said. That collaboration led to the best-selling hits "China Girl," "Modern Love" and "Cat People."

Even today, Rodgers writes music almost daily and is still in high demand. He has collaborated with many of the hottest artists of today, including Sam Smith, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga. In 2014, Rodgers won a Grammy for Record of the Year for the summer smash, "Get Lucky," which he wrote with Daft Punk and Pharrell.

Rodgers said he is inspired by "real life" and other artists when he composes his music. Speaking to the controversy over Ed Sheeran's song, "Photograph," - which is at the center of a lawsuit for copyright infringement - Rodgers downplayed the issue, saying that "there has always been a copying problem" in popular music.

"There's simply no other way to compose. We're all inspired by other people. I've always told people the greatest motivation when it comes to music is jealousy. You hear somebody else's song and you go, 'that's great. If it just went like this, that would be cool," Rodgers said. "That's the cleverness of being a composer, is that what you do is you're inspired by somebody and then you make it your own. You may hear a little lick, but... it's not copying."

Rodgers will be performing at the second annual FOLD festival on August 12th and 13th. He will perform with his band, Chic, alongside other performers, including Kesha; Earth, Wind & Fire; DNCE; Joe Jonas, and more.