This week in 1978, the band Chic learned a very valuable lesson: “Living well is the best revenge.” Usually, when most people get denied by the bouncer at the hottest club in town, they skulk off to a far less hip night spot to lick their wounds. But, if you’re members of the dance music hit makers Chic, and the club is the legendary Studio 54, the night is New Years Eve, and you were invited by none other than Grace Jones…you don’t take that lying down. After guitarist/producer Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards were stopped at the door on the night of the big ball drop by security that hadn’t gotten the updated guest list, it’s safe to say they were none too happy about it.
Their angry mood is not conjecture on our part, mind you. The two retreated to Edwards apartment and immediately cranked out a tune voicing their frustrations, a song they entitled “Fuck Off!” While originally just a fun little ditty to vent their anger, the slinky guitar and thumping bass line proved to be too fun to just waste on a novelty song. After an attempt to change the refrain in question to “Freak Off!,” the band instead ended up with the now infamous “Aaaaaaa FREAK OUT!”
The track was added to the “C’est Chic” album the band released later in the year, with a full production of strings and thin funk. This week in 1978 the single “Freak Out!” began a seven week run at the top of the US charts, eventually selling more than six million copies. That set a record for Warner Brothers that would last a dozen years. Given that Studio 54 was known as “The hippest place on the planet” it’s a sure bet that those same doormen who stopped the band members earlier in the year got to hear the song they inspired hundreds of times.
Though they changed the lyrics, we like to imagine that the piles of money they made off that song helped them feel better about not getting to hit the dance floor that cold New Years Eve. Oh, and we also like to imagine the looks on the faces of those bouncers when they heard this story for the first time. That and the fact that every time those they heard the song for the rest of their lives, they heard its true message loud and clear!