News Archive

Chuck Berry in Amneville, France
Wednesday, 30. April 2003 - 12:32



General Admission: 48,00 EUR

Category details

General Admission: Unreserved Seating

Tickets available through

Source: Wolfgang Guhl

Chuck Berry in Semblancay, France
Wednesday, 30. April 2003 - 12:32

Chuck Berry's show in Semblancay on July 4th 2003 has been cancelled!!

Source: Wolfgang Guhl

Some more (yet unconfirmed) European Tour stops
Sunday, 27. April 2003 - 17:56

There are further dates in the works for Chuck Berry's European Tour 2003.
Beside the confirmed shows in France, he might play:

25.07.03 - Hamburg, Germany - To Be Announced
26.07.03 - Berlin, Germany - To Be Announced
01.08.03 - London, England - Ocean Music Club (To Be Announced)

Source: Wolfgang Guhl

Picture Gallery updated
Saturday, 26. April 2003 - 16:56

One picture of the following show has been added:

Source: Wolfgang Guhl

Chuck Berry in Semblancay, France
Friday, 25. April 2003 - 16:53



General Admission: 48,77 EUR

Category details

General Admission: Unreserved Seating

Tickets available through

Source: Wolfgang Guhl

New Fats Domino DVD, VHS, CD released
Thursday, 24. April 2003 - 14:01

Fats Domino plays only a handful of shows these days. Most of them in his hometown, New Orleans, LA.
This DVD captures the excitement of one of his more recent shows, filmed in 2001 
at the Jazz & Heritage Festival in New Orleans. 
This performance is also available on the following formats: VHS, Audio CD
Available through

Product Details (DVD)

Editorial Reviews (DVD)
The hits come fast and furious in this 2001 performance by Antoine "Fats" Domino at 
the Jazz and Heritage Festival in his hometown of New Orleans. Well, maybe not that 
fast; Fats's style was never what you'd call exactly frenetic, and he was well into 
his seventies at the time of this show. But there are a whole lot of hits--"I'm Walkin'," 
"Blueberry Hill," "Walking to New Orleans," "My Blue Heaven," etc.--and they're just 
as irresistible as ever, with Domino and band (including a full horn section) in 
top form as they deliver their brew of R&B, rock & roll, and country music with 
its distinctively rollicking New Orleans vibe. Aside from the 60-minute concert, 
the DVD features interviews with Fats, Allen Toussaint (himself a legendary New Orleans 
musician and producer), author/music journalist Mikal Gilmore, and others, plus a minute 
or two of Domino and Toussaint jamming at the piano. --Sam Graham

Source: Wolfgang Guhl

Picture Gallery updated
Thursday, 24. April 2003 - 10:51

Pictures of the following shows have been added:

Source: Wolfgang Guhl

Concert Reviews updated
Monday, 21. April 2003 - 10:27

The following review is now available at this website:

Source: Wolfgang Guhl

Picture Gallery updated
Monday, 21. April 2003 - 10:27

Pictures of Chuck Berry's second appearance at B.B. King's Blues Club
in New York, NY last year have been added:

Source: Wolfgang Guhl

Chuck Berry, Little Richard in Trenton, NJ
Saturday, 19. April 2003 - 16:25



1st category: 75,00 $
2nd category: 55,00 $
3rd category: 45,00 $
4th category: 35,00 $

Category details

1st to 4th: Reserved Seating

Tickets available through

Source: Wolfgang Guhl

Chuck Berry, Common, Lauren Hart, Town Hall, Antigone Rising, K Floor, Marva in Philadelphia, PA
Thursday, 17. April 2003 - 11:54



General Admission: 15,00 $

Category details

General Admission: Standing

Tickets available through

Source: Wolfgang Guhl

Jerry Lee Lewis' new album
Thursday, 17. April 2003 - 10:54

The recording was done at Philips Recording Studio, (All recorded within the week of 
February 13, 2003) 639 Madison Avenue, with Jerry Lee Lewis on piano and organ on the 
songs marked with an asterisk. 

Here is Jerry Lee Lewis' new recording which isn't available but will be once the final 
mixing and mastering is done. 

 1.  Old Glory (a song written by Jerry Lee Lewis* (an American Patriotic Song) 
 2.  I Saw Her Standing There (former hit song of the Beatles) 
 3.  Pink Cadillac (written by Bruce Springsteen as well as sang by Bruce Springsteen) 
 4.  Travelin' Band (a scorcher) written and played by John Fogarty of Creedence Clearwater 
 5.  I've Got a Few Years On You Baby (writer, Willie Nelson) 
 6.  The Pilgrim (Kris Kristofferson Song) 
 7.  Get Back To Rock N' Roll (Old Led Zepplin Hit) 
 8.  Evening Gown (done with a Mick Jagger overdub in it) for a motion picture 
 9.  Keep Your Hand To Yourself (written and performed by The Georgia Satellites) 
10.  That's What Makes An Irish Heart Sing (written by Van Morrison) 
11.  BEFORE THE NIGHT IS OVER, YOU'RE GONNA BE IN LOVE* (piano and organ by Jerry Lee Lewis) 
12.  That Kind of Fool 
13.  The Last Cheater's Waltz

Great news finally we have. Soon, new shows will be added...

Source: David Juan

Chuck Berry in Mashantucket, CT
Thursday, 17. April 2003 - 10:03



1st category: 33,00 $
2nd category: 27,50 $

Category details

1st to 2nd: Reserved Seating

Tickets available through
800-200-2882 (Box Office)

Source: Wolfgang Guhl

Chuck Berry, Arlo Guthrie, Steve Kimock Band, Little Feat, Reid Genauer & The Assembly Of Dust in Croton-On-Hudson, NY
Wednesday, 16. April 2003 - 10:18



General Admission: 50,00 $

Category details

General Admission: Standing

Tickets available through

Source: Wolfgang Guhl

Chuck Berry in St. Louis, MO
Wednesday, 16. April 2003 - 10:18



General Admission: 25,00 $

Category details

General Admission: Unreserved Seating

Tickets available through

Source: Wolfgang Guhl

New pictures added
Monday, 14. April 2003 - 16:21

10 pictures of the following show were added to the Picture Gallery:

Source: Wolfgang Guhl

Sweet Tunes, Fast Beats and a Hard Edge
Monday, 14. April 2003 - 16:21

February 23, 2003, Sunday


Sweet Tunes, Fast Beats and a Hard Edge

By BERNARD WEINRAUB ( Series ) 5687 words
ST. LOUIS -- Chuck Berry is seated backstage listening to the crowd gather 
at Blueberry Hill, a music club and bar in the Loop area on this city's west 
side. Once a month, Mr. Berry, known universally as the father of rock 'n' roll, 
performs downstairs in the cramped Duck Room, named for the famous duck walk 
he has performed around the world for nearly 50 years.

Still lean and handsome at 76 and probably the most influential rock musician 
ever, at least this side of Elvis, Mr. Berry remains as suspicious, defiant and 
guarded offstage as he is mesmerizing on. In a life overshadowed by three prison 
terms, his own inner demons and the humiliations of racism, he now carefully 
avoids any public hint of the anger and resentment that seem to lurk just 
beneath the surface.

His eyes narrow as he speaks. ''Had I been pushed like Colonel Parker pushed 
Elvis, had I been a white boy like Elvis, sure, it would have been different,'' said 
Mr. Berry, a onetime autoworker who was the first to fuse the blues, country music 
and rhythm-and-blues with a creativity and wit that spoke directly to American 
teenagers. A result was vivid songs with complex riffs on his electric guitar 
that have influenced virtually every rock musician since the 1960's.

''But look,'' he said. ''The last 10 years have been the best. I've had more awards, 
more praise. My highest dollars have come in. I'm satisfied.''

Satisfaction has often proved elusive to Mr. Berry. The high point of his career, 
from the mid-50's through the 60's, was distinguished by about 40 songs, many 
of them early rock 'n' roll classics.

He became famous with ''Maybellene'' in 1955. It was followed by ''Roll Over 
Beethoven,'' ''Brown Eyed Handsome Man,'' ''Johnny B. Goode,'' ''School Days,'' 
''Nadine'' and ''Rock and Roll Music.''

Although Little Richard and Fats Domino may have been the earliest black stars 
to sell rock to white audiences, Mr. Berry was the first to break down racial 
barriers, not only with his electric guitar but also with wordplay and imagery. 
As Paul Friedlander writes in his book ''Rock and Roll: A Social History,'' 
Mr. Berry ''created the most literate, stylistically innovative and original music 
of the era.'' If the formulaic lyrics of early rockers were narrowly focused on 
boy meets girl, Mr. Berry's songs went beyond this to appeal to the concerns of 
white adolescents dealing with issues like parents, dancing, cars, lust and new 
tastes in music, along with teenage romance.

His influence is so sprawling that the list of rock greats who owe him a large debt 
includes virtually everyone in the pantheon. John Lennon once said, ''If you tried 
to give rock 'n' roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry.''

Identifying Mr. Berry as ''the greatest of the rock 'n' rollers,'' the rock critic 
Robert Christgau wrote, ''By adding blues tone to some fast country runs, and 
yoking them to a rhythm-and-blues beat and some unembarrassed electrification, 
he created an instrumental style with biracial appeal.''

He also forged the style for rock 'n' roll guitar that's still current. ''For him, 
the guitar was more than an accompanying prop hanging off his shoulders,'' Joe 
Stuessy and Scott Lipscomb write in ''Rock and Roll: Its History and Stylistic 
Development.'' In Mr. Berry's hands, they observed, the guitar ''was a frontline 
instrument, often on a par with the lead vocal. The statement-and-answer technique 
in which the guitar mimics the just-completed vocal line is related to the two-bar 
or four-bar 'tradeoffs' found in jazz. It is as if Berry and his guitar are doing a duet.''

Turning Country Into Rock

When Mr. Berry recorded ''Maybellene'' for the Chicago-based Chess Records, 
he was inspired, he said, by a country-western song, ''Ida Red.'' Leonard Chess, 
one of the owners, told him he didn't like the title.

As Johnnie Johnson, the piano player and Mr. Berry's longtime collaborator, 
recalled, Mr. Chess suggested ''Maybellene'' after noticing a Maybelline 
cosmetics box on a window sill beside a secretary's desk.

In ''Maybellene,'' Mr. Berry's approach to the mass audience of suburban white 
teenagers was as ebullient as a fast-car fantasy:

As I was motivatin' over the hill

I saw Maybellene in a Coupe DeVille

A Cadillac arollin' on the open road

Nothin' will outrun my V8 Ford.

With the help of a disc jockey, Alan Freed, the record became one of the first 
by a black artist to outsell its white cover versions.

It also gave Mr. Berry his st taste of music-industry bitterness. Initially he 
was listed as the writer. Once the song hit the charts, two other names were added: 
those of Mr. Freed, who often played songs in exchange for credit, and of Russ Fratto, 
the landlord of the Chess Company offices in Chicago. Mr. Berry's successful 
battle to reclaim the rights lasted three decades, a victory that came only 
after hundreds of thousands of dollars had been divided three ways.

Asked if he felt robbed, Mr. Berry said tightly: ''It's been years ago, man, 
and so many good things have happened to me. The feeling of being ripped off -- 
I found out about that later.'' But within moments, when asked about his 
biggest disappointment, Mr. Berry said: ''When I discovered that I didn't 
get the entire credit for something that I created when I should have -- 
that's a disappointment. That was the biggest disappointment. And it was more 
than one incident that happened.''

There were other issues, sexual and racial, that intertwined and in some ways 
dominated his life. He once accused the St. Louis police of singling him out in 
the 1950's and 60's because he owned a nightclub with an interracial clientele. 
His odd autobiography, ''Chuck Berry,'' (Harmony Books, 1987), is packed with 
sexual escapades, although he's been married since 1948 to Themetta Berry, called 
Toddy. His book also includes scary incidents with the police or with white men who
saw him driving or dancing with white women.

But the most devastating episode in Mr. Berry's life was his trial and conviction 
in 1961 for violating the Mann Act, which prohibits the transportation of women or 
girls across state lines for the purposes of prostitution. Mr. Berry was convicted 
of charges involving Janice Norine Escalanti, a 14-year-old hat-check girl. (She 
complained to the police after Mr. Berry fired her from her job at his St. Louis 
club, Club Bandstand.)

Mr. Berry's 20-month imprisonment left him broken and outraged. He said he felt 
hounded by the police because of his association with white women. He was actually 
tried more than once: the first conviction was thrown out because of the judge's 
incendiary racial comments, including his constant use of the word ''nigra.'' In 
the trials, which took place before white male juries, the prosecution depicted 
Mr. Berry as a sexual predator, and the outcomes seem, to some degree, racially 

In the recently published biography ''Brown Eyed Handsome Man: The Life and Hard 
Times of Chuck Berry,'' (Routledge), Bruce Pegg writes: ''The issue in the trials 
was one of Janice Escalanti's age. But as with everything in Berry's life there's 
always an ambiguity -- that he is as much a victim as perpetrator.'' By the time 
Mr. Berry left federal prison, he was, by some accounts, a different man.

''Never saw a man so changed,'' Carl Perkins, the songwriter, singer and guitarist, 
once told Michael Lydon, a journalist, as he recalled a 1964 tour of Britain with 
Mr. Berry. ''He had been an easygoing guy before, the kinda guy who'd jam in dressing 
rooms, sit and swap licks and jokes. In England he was cold, real distant and bitter. 
It wasn't just jail. It was those years of one-nighters; grinding it out like that 
can kill a man. But I figure it was mostly jail.''

The changes, reflected in his often difficult personality and his precise and 
demanding requirements on the road, have often exasperated his admirers.

Contempt for Followers

Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones' guitarist, said in 1986 at Mr. Berry's 
induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, ''I lifted every 
lick he ever played.'' But Mr. Berry's treatment of Mr. Richards, who idolizes 
him, offers a glimpse into Mr. Berry's sometimes harsh and incomprehensible 
ways. By some accounts, Mr. Berry views Mr. Richards's superstardom as more 
of an affront than a tribute.

Mr. Berry once kicked Mr. Richards off a stage in Hollywood for playing too 
loudly and once punched him backstage after he tapped him on the shoulder. 
Mr. Berry also threw a lighted match down Mr. Richards's shirt at the Los 
Angeles airport.

Mr. Berry says he doesn't recall those incidents, although Mr. Richards has 
spoken of them. Mr. Berry has had a similarly tense and competitive relationship 
with his younger contemporary Jerry Lee Lewis. (Mr. Lewis and his father once 
used a racial slur to describe Mr. Berry, who had to be restrained from hitting 
them.) Once, Mr. Berry heard Mr. Lewis declare himself the ''king of rock 'n' roll'' 
and promptly punched him in the nose.

Asked about his relationship with Mr. Lewis, Mr. Berry said, ''He's an artist that 
I played with a number of times.'' He was asked if he liked him. ''I don't know what 
you mean by like,'' Mr. Berry replied coolly.

Backstage at Blueberry Hill, dressed 70's style in a sequined aqua shirt and tight 
flared black pants as he waited to go on, Mr. Berry professed to have little 
interest in the idolatrous praise given him by rock 'n' roll stars like Mr. Richards, 
Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen and Eric Clapton.

''People said I was king, but I was never king, and I say I'm the prime 
minister,'' Mr. Berry said, reflecting his view that he never achieved 
the megastardom he deserved. ''Praise doesn't mean anything to me. I don't 
judge myself.''

Unlike many other early rock 'n' rollers, including Bo Diddley, Mr. Berry was not 
reared in poverty. Born Charles Edward Anderson Berry on Oct. 18, 1926, he grew up 
in his family's three-room brick cottage at 2250 Goode Avenue, ''a nicely kept area 
in the best of the three colored sections of St. Louis,'' he recalled later. 
The neighborhood, known as the Ville, was a thriving black community north 
and west of downtown St. Louis. Mr. Berry's parents, Henry and Martha, came 
from polyglot roots: African, Chihuahua Indian and European. His father 
worked in a flour mill and later as a repairman in apartment buildings.

Mr. Berry's deeply religious parents sang in the Antioch Baptist Church, and even 
before learning to walk, their son began pounding on the family's piano and 
listening to the Victrola. The Berrys were musical: another son later played the 
trumpet, and a daughter sang with Marian Anderson.

Mr. Berry's life was remarkably cloistered. He recalls not seeing a white person 
until he was about 3, when he encountered some firemen at a blaze. ''I thought 
they were so frightened that their faces were whitened from fear of going near 
the big fire,'' Mr. Berry said. ''Daddy told me they were white people, and 
their skin was always white that way, day or night.''

Judging by his candid autobiography, which he wrote without the help of a ghostwriter, 
Mr. Berry was stirred by two forces in his early years (and his late years, too): 
sex and music. ''My 12th was my most Christian and most boring year of my life,'' 
Mr. Berry writes. ''Try as I did, day after day, to cling to righteousness, 
I was washed down in suds of sinful surroundings.''

His earliest influences were boogie-woogie, blues and swing. He spent hours listening 
to the bluesmen Tampa Red, Lonnie Johnson, Arthur Crudup and Muddy Waters, and 
later to Louis Jordan, T-Bone Walker, Buddy Johnson, Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, 
Harry James and Nat King Cole.

''Nat Cole's diction, his speech and his delivery was something that I can't get 
from a lot of rappers today,'' Mr. Berry said backstage. ''And a lot of that 
country-western -- can't hear what they're saying.''

A Bold Early Step

A significant moment in his early life was a musical performance in 1941 
at Sumner High School, which had a middle-class black student body. In a 
daring move, Mr. Berry refused to sing a tired classic like ''Danny Boy'' or 
''I Dream of Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair,'' turning instead to the 
popular and bold ''Confessin' the Blues.''

''It wasn't a raunchy song, but it wasn't 'I Dream of Jeanie' either,'' 
Mr. Berry recalled. He began singing quietly:

Baby, I stand before you

With my heart in my hand

I want you to read it, Momma,

hoping you will understand.

Mr. Berry said, ''He was giving her a love letter.'' He laughed. ''I sang 
my heart out. I just felt so good. Where did I get the courage?'' The students 
went wild. But more significant, Mr. Berry was enthralled by the guitar 
accompaniment of another student, Tommy Stevens, who had played at nightclubs.

''It was then that my determination to play guitar and accompany myself while 
singing became an amendment to my religion,'' he said.

He borrowed a four-string tenor guitar and learned to play it, partly through 
a book, ''Nick Manoloff's Guitar Book of Chords,'' and partly with the help of 
neighbors. He began working at parties.

Mr. Berry said he soon discovered that the harmony of many popular songs was 
derived from the chords of George Gershwin's ''I Got Rhythm'' and were known 
as songs with rhythm changes. They ranged from ''At Last'' and ''Heart and 
Soul'' to ''Blue Moon.'' Others are based on blues chords. Only a few, like 
''Silent Night,'' ''Deep Purple'' and ''Stardust,'' have their own specific 

In 1944, still in high school at 17 and feeling restless, Mr. Berry decided to 
drive to California in a 1937 Oldsmobile with two friends. This led to one of 
the first wild and disruptive incidents in his life.

He had the remains of a pistol he said he had found in a used-car lot. It was 
useless, he recalled, but resembled a .22-caliber weapon. The three teenagers 
began a Missouri robbery spree in a bakery, a barber shop and a clothing store 
in Kansas City. They also stole a vehicle near Columbia, Mo., after their car 
broke down. Eventually seized by a highway policeman, they were held for a month 
in the Boone County jail before standing trial and being sentenced to 10 years' 

Mr. Pegg writes: ''As Berry tells the tale, their crime spree was nothing more 
than adolescent high jinks; like much of what was to happen later in his life, 
however, the incident was not without ambiguities. Berry's actions were clearly 
dangerous and antisocial; at the same time, his legal advice (such as it was), 
trial and sentencing were infused with the racism one would expect of a rural 
Missouri court in the 1940's.'' The judge, although acknowledging that Mr. Berry 
had never been convicted of a felony, unhesitatingly gave him the maximum sentence.

Mr. Berry served three years at the Algoa Intermediate Reformatory for Young Men, 
near Jefferson City. He organized a singing quartet and band there, was a 
boxer (his nickname was Wild Man) and, as he depicts it, had a chaste but 
sexually charged relationship with the assistant superintendent's wife. 
He was released at 21.

Seven months later, Mr. Berry met Themetta Suggs, who was working in a dry 
cleaner's, and married her after a five-month courtship. He began working 
two jobs; one at Fisher Body Motors and the other at a plant making 105-millimeter 
shells. Then he trained as a beautician, following two of his sisters.

By late 1950 or early 1951, Mr. Stevens, his former classmate, invited him 
to join his three-piece combo as a guitarist. With him playing and singing 
the blues, the band began to make its name. This was largely because Mr. Stevens 
left Mr. Berry free to sing what he wanted, including ''hillbilly music.''

In December 1952, Mr. Johnson, the piano player, asked Mr. Berry to join his trio 
for a New Year's Eve gig at the Cosmopolitan Club, an upscale, predominantly black 
club in East St. Louis, Ill. By Easter, the trio was packing the nightclub every 

Mr. Johnson once said that Mr. Berry's dancing and guitar playing -- his focus 
on pleasing the crowd -- was a prime factor in his success. ''When Chuck started 
with me, he didn't know but 12 songs all the way through and couldn't play the 
guitar that well,'' Mr. Johnson told his biographer, Travis Fitzpatrick. ''I've 
seen Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Rolling Stones. Ain't none of them can 
hold a crowd like Chuck. That's his talent. Chuck Berry is an entertainer.''

At the Cosmopolitan, Mr. Berry worked up a repertory of boogies and blues but also 
played around with the lyrics of old country songs. ''Some of the clubgoers started 
whispering, 'Who is that black hillbilly at the Cosmo?' '' Mr. Berry recalls in 
his autobiography. ''After that, they laughed at me a few times, they began 
requesting the hillbilly stuff and enjoyed trying to dance to it.''

Mr. Berry's calculated showmanship began luring larger white audiences to the 
club. He also began singing the songs of Nat King Cole and Muddy Waters. ''Listening 
to Nat Cole prompted me to sing sentimental songs with distinct diction,'' he 
said at Blueberry Hill. ''The songs of Muddy Waters impelled me to deliver the 
down-home blues in the language they came from. When I played hillbilly songs, 
I stressed my diction so that it was harder and whiter. All in all, it was my 
intention to hold both the black and the white clientele by voicing the different 
kinds of songs in their customary tongues.''

His confidence and onstage magnetism propelled him to glide around the stage in 
what became his trademark duck walk. According to Mr. Berry, its origins were in 
his childhood, when one day his rubber ball fell beneath a kitchen table where 
his mother and some church choir members were sitting. Joking, he stooped with his 
knees fully bent, keeping his head and back straight, and began scooting to reach 
the ball. The grown-ups laughed. From then on, his mother asked him to repeat the 
maneuver. Years later in New York, he did it again. A journalist 
christened it the ''duck walk.''

A Fateful Meeting

By 1955, Mr. Berry had taken over Mr. Johnson's band and was eager for a recording 
career. On a visit to Chicago, he visited the Palladium, a South Side club, where 
Muddy Waters was performing. ''He was the inspiration, my idol,'' he said. A friend 
introduced them, and Mr. Berry asked Mr. Waters whom to see about making a record.

''Leonard Chess,'' Waters responded.

After a brief conversation in the offices of Chess Records, home to many black 
artists in the early days of rock 'n' roll, Mr. Chess asked Mr. Berry for a tape. 
He was back in a week with what turned into ''Maybellene.'' The song, which 
hinted at a marriage between country music and rock 'n' roll, was released 
that July 30.

''With its opening guitar run -- a rapid mixture of notes and chords -- the 
song had a relentless energy, a similar feel to Bo Diddley's first single 
('Bo Diddley') but with a different style and a lighter sound,'' Nadine Cohodas 
writes in ''Spinning Blues Into Gold: The Chess Brothers and the Legendary 
Chess Records.'' Ms. Cohodas adds, ''And then there were Berry's unconventional 
lyrics, unusual words, perhaps, but creating an unmistakable mood.'' Beyond 
this, critics noted that Mr. Berry played a twangy ''chop-chop-chop,'' using 
a staccato beat.

The beat was derived from Bill Haley and the Comets. ''Berry's clear enunciation 
probably enabled the record to 'pass for white' '' writes Charlie Gillett in 
''The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll.''

In September, ''Maybellene'' reached No. 1 on Billboard's R & B chart and had 
crossed over into the pop chart. By the end of the year, the song had sold a 
million copies and Mr. Berry had been named Most Promising R & B Artist in 
Billboard's annual disc jockey poll. Almost overnight, he had become one of 
the country's most popular artists.

In the same breath, Mr. Berry recently praised and criticized Leonard Chess 
and his brother. ''They were great,'' he said. ''They weren't honest but 
they were very helpful in my career. They gave me the first chance. That's 
a beauty. To rob somebody or to not give somebody what belongs to them 
is not honest. So they're both, you know. But they were good to me and cool.''

A line of hits followed, including ''School Days,'' ''Sweet Little Sixteen'' 
and ''Johnny B. Goode.'' Like Elvis Presley's records, they were rooted in 
white teenage culture, black R & B and country and western music.

''I wrote songs white people could buy, because that's nine pennies out of 
every dime,'' Mr. Berry once said. Recently he emphasized: ''I made records 
for people who would buy them. No color, no ethnic, no political -- I don't 
want that, never did.''

Still, some of his most famous music, like ''Brown Eyed Handsome Man,'' carries 
subversive overtones. In that song Mr. Berry mocks racial and sexual taboos 
by explaining how the Venus de Milo had ''lost both her arms in a wrestling 
match/to get a brown eyed handsome man.''

There were limits to a black performer's success in Mr. Berry's golden era. 
Asked whether it was humiliating to tour the segregated South, he answered 
obliquely: ''You're looking at it like a white person would. Would it humiliate 
you if you went to a country where it said no person with black hair or dark 
brown eyes would be allowed? You pass it by. You know about it. It's not 
anything new to you.''

The experience that derailed him was his Mann Act conviction. In Juarez, 
Mexico, Mr. Berry had met Ms. Escalanti, who accompanied him to El Paso, 
Tucson, Phoenix, Kansas City and St. Louis. When he dismissed her from his 
club, he bought her a bus ticket home. She phoned the police in Yuma, Ariz., 
where she perhaps hoped to stay, and they alerted the St. Louis police, 
who arrested Mr. Berry.

However tough his prison experience, Mr. Berry was determined to resume his 
career. He used his term to complete his high school education and write songs. 
Two of them were released in 1964: ''Nadine,'' a loosely reshaped version of 
''Maybellene,'' and ''You Never Can Tell,'' about a teenage wedding. Meanwhile, 
the Beatles and the Stones both took his music to almost unimaginable heights 
of popularity.

This didn't necessarily please him. Bill Wyman, the Stones' former bass 
player, recalled that Mr. Jagger and Mr. Watts were once in a hotel elevator 
in London when the door opened to reveal Mr. Berry, who was on a successful 
tour. Mr. Berry ''stepped in, saw the two Stones, turned his back and, 
when the doors opened again, walked out without saying a word,'' he said.

By the late 60's, Mr. Berry's career began to slow, losing ground to breakthrough 
improvisers like Mr. Clapton, Mike Bloomfield and Jimi Hendrix, who all paid 
tribute to him while venturing away from his formulas. But in 1972 he unexpectedly 
struck gold with a silly and risqué song, ''My Ding-A-Ling,'' which was recorded 
before 35,000 students in Coventry, England.

As on other occasions in Mr. Berry's life, this career surge was soon undercut 
by personal troubles. The Internal Revenue Service did a five-year investigation 
of him, and by 1979, the government had indicted him for evading about $109,000 
in taxes and for filing false returns for income earned in 1973. Mr. Berry 
accepted a plea bargain and was sentenced to 120 days in federal prison and 
four years' probation, which included a requirement that he perform 1,000 
hours of community service. A United Press International report of the sentencing 
said Mr. Berry had twice burst into tears.

From the White House to Jail

The sentencing took place three days after Mr. Berry had been honored at the 
White House by President Jimmy Carter in a celebration of the Black Music 
Association. During a speech there, Mr. Berry said that when he heard 
President Carter mention his name, ''a very warm feeling for my country came over me.''

''Believe me, I think I'm a different person,'' he continued, alluding to his 
troubles. And then with a smile he added, ''I'll try to entertain you.'' So 
he picked up his guitar and did ''Roll Over Beethoven.''

Mr. Berry's life in the 1980's and 90's was an erratic mix of concerts, honors 
and scandal. In 1987 he was arrested by the police on assault charges at the 
Gramercy Park Hotel in New York, where a woman said he had beaten her up. 
Eventually Mr. Berry pleaded guilty to harassment, and was fined $250.

In 1990 several women sued him, claiming that he had videotaped them in 
the bathroom of a restaurant he owned in St. Louis. His biographer, Mr. Pegg, 
estimated that it cost him $1.2 million as well as substantial legal fees 
to reach a settlement. His lawyers said he had been the victim of a conspiracy 
to profit from his wealth.

Backstage at Blueberry Hill, Mr. Berry declined to talk about many of the 
legal issues that have dogged him. But despite the turmoil and setbacks, 
Mr. Pegg observed that there was ''a very private Chuck Berry, open and 
warm to those he let into his world.'' But, he added, ''there was the 
other side, too, very controlling, very aggressive.'' (Mr. Berry refused to 
speak to Mr. Pegg during the six years he worked on the biography.)

The other side of what Mr. Pegg describes as a truly enigmatic personality 
is revealed in stories that go well beyond Mr. Richards's travails. Mr. Berry 
performs about 50 shows a year, and his demands are unusual: he generally 
earns about $30,000 to $35,000 for an arena show, but the money must be 
placed in his bank account before the show. He used to receive cash -- 
and only cash -- before each performance.

He will give no encores unless he is paid extra. A contract with each club 
stipulates the exact times he will appear and depart. If a show is delayed, 
he generally walks away. Met by a club representative at an airport, Mr. 
Berry often barely nods, sometimes doesn't shake hands and walks to the 
car provided for him. He demands a Lincoln Town Car that he drives 
himself. If a promoter sends a stretch limousine with a driver, 
Mr. Berry sends it back. One publicity agent recalled showing up 
breathless at an airport just as Mr. Berry arrived. Mr. Berry responded 
with rage that the agent wasn't already waiting for him.

He also demands a Fender Bassman amplifier, and if one is not provided, he 
demands a fine of $2,000 paid before the show.

Taylor Hackford, director of ''Chuck Berry, Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll,'' a 1987 
documentary in which Mr. Richards, Mr. Clapton, Linda Ronstadt, Mr. Springsteen 
and others celebrate Mr. Berry's 60th birthday, recalled ''maddening'' moments 
making the film. Many artists arrived in St. Louis to pay tribute to Mr. Berry, 
but on the first morning of the shoot, Mr. Hackford recalled, his star did not 
appear. That afternoon, Mr. Hackford said, a phone rang at a booth on the 
street in front of the Fox Theater on Grand Avenue in midtown St. Louis, 
where they were supposed to film. It was Mr. Berry asking for the film's producer.

How Mr. Berry knew the phone number is unclear, but his message was direct. 
Although he was supposed to earn $500,000 from Universal Pictures for his 
participation, he insisted on $2,500 in cash before he would appear on the 
first day, Mr. Hackford said. Mr. Berry often asks for a cash payment 
before a performance, but the production team was startled. This, after all, 
was a tribute to him. But the payment was made and rehearsals began.

Days later, as the concert started for the documentary, Mr. Richards, who was 
musical director, walked offstage in midsong, as Mr. Berry yelled at him again, 
after having repeatedly hurled insults at him throughout the filming. One guest 
star, Robbie Robertson, dropped out, and Bob Dylan canceled his appearance, 
blaming illness.

Mr. Hackford said of Mr. Berry: ''He's a really complex character, a man who 
knows he's changed the face of American music but, at the same time, still a 
black man who was sent to jail for bringing a white girl across the border.'' 
(Although Ms. Escalanti is an American Indian, she is commonly believed to 
be white.)

Mr. Hackford said part of the problem was that Mr. Berry was not fully aware 
of his gifts. ''As a songwriter, he's extraordinary, but I don't think he 
gives himself much credit for that,'' he said. ''He sees himself as a 
guitarist. His ego isn't in the right place.''

Mr. Berry once saw Nat King Cole walk across a street in New York City, but was 
too intimidated to approach him, Mr. Hackford said. ''He felt, 'I'm not worthy, 
I can't shake his hand,' '' he said. ''Chuck Berry will die an incredibly complicated man.''

Dick Alen, Mr. Berry's agent at William Morris for 40 years, spoke of Mr. Berry's 
inner strength.'' ''He keeps anger very much to himself,'' he said. ''We 
sometimes travel together, but he doesn't open up personally.'' But, he added, 
if someone understands Mr. Berry's rules, he is actually easy to get along with. 
''He sets the guidelines and lives by them,'' he said.

Giving What's Asked, Never More

At performances, if Mr. Berry has a contract that says he will appear for 60 
minutes starting at 8 p.m., he will sometimes stand backstage gazing at his watch, 
waiting to go on at exactly 8, not later, not earlier.

Mr. Berry explained: ''A contract is an ask game, and if it asks for an hour, 
and I submit to an hour, then it's an hour. When I look at a contract, I look 
at the obligation -- where, when, how long, the compensation. If I agree to 
it, that's the way it is. I have an obligation. They have an obligation.''

''It wasn't difficult for me to follow a contract,'' he said. ''It was difficult 
for the shysters who cut the corners.''

The one place where Mr. Berry seems to relax is Blueberry Hill, named after the 
Fats Domino song. He began performing there monthly in 1996, after becoming 
friendly over the previous decade with the owners, Joe Edwards and his wife, 

He always eats the same dinner before a show: chicken wings and French fries, 
washed down with plenty of orange juice. The performances, which involve nearly 
an hour of singing his classics, often include his son Charles Jr. on drums, 
and his daughter Ingrid Berry Clay on the harmonica. He hands over the 
microphone to musician-friends in the audience and appears to have a good 
time. By the end of a show, which often packs in 350 people, including Japanese, 
British and French tourists, Mr. Berry can seem depleted, drenched in sweat.

Mr. Edwards added: ''I think his anger has dissipated. I think he's more 
confident and comfortable than he has been in years.''

Although Mr. Berry's wife apparently left him for a period after the Mann Act 
conviction, they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1998 by renewing 
their vows before their four children and their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Mr. Berry has not made a record in 22 years, but says he is working on one now. 
''Why haven't I done it?'' he said. ''Laziness. At this age I want free time.''

Does he consider himself an architect of rock 'n' roll? ''I don't think that way,'' 
he said coolly. ''My music is simple stuff. Anybody can sit down, look at a set 
of symbols and produce sounds the music represents.''

''A song is a song,'' he said. ''But there are some songs, ah, some songs are the 
greatest. The Beatles song 'Yesterday.' Listen to the lyrics.''

He began so sing softly:

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away.

Now it looks as though they're here to stay.

Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Chuck Berry
He is one of rock'n' roll's most influential and enigmatic figures. A musician, 
singer and composer, Mr. Berry has influenced the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, 
Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

BIOGRAPHY -- Born on Oct. 18, 1926, in a middle-class, segregated enclave of St. Louis 
and named Charles Edward Anderson Berry. He still lives in St. Louis and performs 
in clubs.

TOP RECORDINGS -- His first single, ''Maybellene,'' on Chess Records in 1955, reached 
No. 5 on the pop charts and No. 1 on the R & B charts. Other hits include ''Roll Over 
Beethoven'' and ''Brown Eyed Handsome Man'' in 1956, ''Rock and Roll Music'' in 1957, 
''Johnny B. Goode'' in 1958 and ''Nadine'' in 1964. His albums include ''Chuck Berry 
Is on Top'' (Chess), made in 1959 and reissued in 1987; ''Chuck Berrys Greatest Hits'' 
(1964); and the movie soundtrack ''Hail! Hail! Rock n Roll'' (1987).

The Music They Made
This series will periodically present profiles of the living pioneers and 
innovators of rock 'n' roll, and the musicians outside their ranks who have 
shaped its sound.

Samples of Chuck Berrys music and additional photographs are online:


Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company

Source: Wolfgang Guhl

Chuck Berry in Columbia, MO
Friday, 04. April 2003 - 14:31



General Admission: 20,00 $

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Source: Wolfgang Guhl

Chuck Berry in St. Louis, MO
Friday, 04. April 2003 - 14:31



General Admission: 25,00 $

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Chuck Berry, Brandon Bennett in Hammond, LA
Friday, 04. April 2003 - 14:31



1st category: 25,00 $
2nd category: 20,00 $

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1st to 2nd: Reserved Seating

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Source: Wolfgang Guhl

Chuck Berry in Paris, France
Friday, 04. April 2003 - 14:31



1st category: 89,00 EUR
2nd category: 80,00 EUR
3rd category: 74,00 EUR
4th category: 56,00 EUR

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1st to 4th: Reserved Seating

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Source: Wolfgang Guhl

Chuck Berry in Divonne, France
Friday, 04. April 2003 - 14:31



1st category: 100,00 CHF
2nd category:  85,00 CHF
3rd category: SOLD OUT
4th category:  54,00 CHF

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1st to 3rd: Reserved Seating
       4th: Standing

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Source: Wolfgang Guhl