Music producer Nile Rodgers has told of the “heartbreaking” moment he learned George Michael had died via a news alert on his phone, while he was waiting for a text message from the singer.
Chic star Nile had been at George’s house just two days before the singer was found dead, and the two musicians had arranged to speak on the phone on Christmas Day due to their respective busy schedules.
He had remixed a song of George’s and was keen for him to hear it before anybody else, and was trying to arrange a time for this to happen.
But instead of the planned message from George on December 25, Nile saw a news bulletin pop up on his device alerting him that George had been found dead at home at the age of 53.
When asked who he would like to collaborate with, Nile told the Press Association from the BBC Worldwide Showcase: “That’s a tricky question because I always go to the people that I almost work with and it didn’t work out because they passed away and that emotion is so strong.
“I was just working with George Michael. I was here on December 23, and I had come over to remix one of his songs, and while I was here working on the remix I was also doing a Chic concert that night.
“But then George Michael was doing a film, because he was planning a big comeback.
“So they had me come over to his house to shoot the film, and I still hadn’t played the demo yet because I thought it was so cool and fairly drastic, I wanted to just play it for him first.”
Nile, who is starring in a new three-part documentary on BBC Four in April looking back at his successful decades-long musical career, said he did not want the record company to listen to his remix before George himself.
He said: “So I get a message from (Michael), a text – ‘So Nile lets talk tomorrow’.”
Nile explained how he told George he would be flying that day, and how he asked the former Wham! star to message him on Christmas Day instead of Christmas Eve.
He added: “(On) Christmas Day, instead of getting a text I get an alert: ‘George Michael found dead.’
“It was heartbreaking and he never got a chance to hear what I did, so now I’m ambivalent about the work because I wanted him to hear it, not the record company necessarily.
“Not that I have anything against them, it’s just he was such a genius and he created and produced his own work.”
Nile, who in recent years has had a slew of popular hits with artists such as Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams, said that it “breaks his heart” that George died.