Bernard Edwards

 

Bernard Edwards was best known for playing bass in Chic. His funk grooves and smooth phrasing helped drive Chic to become a legendary funk/disco band.

Life

Born on 31st October 1952 in Greenville North Carolina, he moved to Brooklyn when he was 10 years old. Bernard played saxophone and guitar but soon switched to bass. Edwards met his lifelong musical partner Nile Rogers in 1970. They founded The Big Apple Band and backed the R&B group, New York City. After encountering an act with the same name they re-branded and Chic was formed. They recruited drummer Tony Thompson, keyboardist Raymond Jones and vocalist Norma Jean Wright. Chic produced an astonishing number of hits that Bernard underpinned with booming and punchy basslines.

Edwards and Rogers wrote and produced some of the greatest songs of the 70s/80s, for artists such as Sister Sledge and Diana Ross. Bernard also became known as an extremely talented producer. He produced the first Power station album and continued to produce for many other artists throughout his life.

As a solo artist Edwards released his debut album Glad to Be Here in 1983.

Death

On April 18th 1966 after playing a gig in Tokyo, he passed away in his hotel room from pneumonia. Edwards was posthumously inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame as a producer in 2005. And in 2016 he was inducted into The Songwriters Hall of Fame. John Taylor has cited Bernard as a major influence.

Gear

  • Musicman Stingray
  • Fender Precision
  • Sadowsky
  • B.C Rich Eagle
  • Ampeg SVT
  • Ampeg 810

Basses

Bernard primarily used a 1977 Musicman Stingray which he later gave to Duran Duran’s John Taylor. He used a Fender precision bass on earlier records and played a Sadowsky on his last chic album Chic-ism. Bernard remarked that he used a B.C Rich Eagle bass on stage and photos as it looked good.

Amplifiers

For amplifiers he used an Ampeg SVT and 810 and n the studio he mainly plugged straight into the board.

Strings

He initially used flatwound strings but switched to roundwound in the late 70s. He followed his idol James Jamerson’s belief in not changing his strings made for a better and funkier sound.

Techniques

Bernard invented a technique he called “chucking” in which he held his thumb and forefinger together and strummed the strings. He partially used the nail and the flesh of his index finger to “chuck”.  It created a wholly unique percussive element to the bass. Initially he used the stock foam mutes on Musicman but when they wore off, he muted with both his left and right hand. Bernard would move up the fretboard on the E and A strings rather than using the higher strings. This creates more of a thumping and muted sound.

Notable Tracks

Good times
Risqué, Chic, 1979
Everybody Dance
Chic, 1977
We Are Family
Sister Sledge, 1979

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