News Archive

A Conversation with Chuck Berry
Monday, 22. December 2008 - 15:48

A Conversation with Chuck Berry

King of Rock 'n' Roll

By Jeannette Cooperman

He came in alone, the way he always does, through the back door to Blueberry Hill, carrying his guitar. This was his birthday concert, October 15, three days before he turned 82. Waiters were apologizing to one table after another: "Sorry, man, the tickets sold out in two hours. They always do." The disappointed would have to watch the presidential debate on the bar TV, while downstairs in the Duck Room, Berry reclaimed his legendary "Johnny B. Goode" — played repeatedly by the McCain campaign, without Berry's knowledge, because it was a surefire way to rouse a crowd. First, though, Berry ducked into the St. Louis Room and kindly granted one of those things he normally dreads or scraps altogether: an interview.

You once sent a BBC crew away empty-handed. What do reporters do or say that annoys you? 
Oh, it doesn't affect me at all, other than I give them a negative answer. I think it affects them more than me.

So it's safe to ask if you knew you were inventing rock 'n' roll? 
No, and I still don't. But since everybody says that, I'm not going to dispute it.

What do people not realize about you? 
That I have no idea what other people think of me. I cannot answer what is in their mind.

In [the tribute documentary] Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, Bruce Springsteen said, "I wanted to write the way people talk, because that's the way he'd write." Eric Clapton said that after your double strings, nobody could play rock 'n' roll any other way; it'd sound too thin. You inspired the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys and Elvis Presley. So who were your influences? 
Well, I copied as much as I could from Carl Hogan of Count Basie, and Muddy Waters and T-Bone Walker.

And you loved Nat King Cole's voice. 
Nat King Cole had diction. I still say his diction was better 'n Blue Eyes'. Nat came at the wrong time; Nat was under Blue Eyes like I was under Presley.

I was wondering what you thought of Elvis Presley. 
I think he had a wonderful manager. [Chuckles.] But one thing Presley had that no other person had was that voice. He had a voice better than Bing Crosby's. That's another thing: I came up believing that singing did not mean just saying it with ups and downs and varied melody. Singing is almost like swinging: It vibrates.

Did being sexy help your career? 
You sayin' I'm sexy? [Mock incredulity.] Sho' nuf! I do know that when I look at my pictures from 15 on, I was pretty good looking, I may say so. I don't think I knew it, but I'm old enough now to say it, 'cause it's gone.

You once called poetry your blood flow; John Lennon said it was the meter of your lyrics that influenced him and Dylan. Did you always speak poetically? No, but I liked poetry, and that might have been where it came from. And then, for the music, the lyrics came pretty much first. You had to match the notes to the words — so I had somebody write the music. I could read it and sing it, but not write the [notation].

What were your happiest years? 
Pretty much always. 'Cause when I was a kid, I didn't know what happy was; I was just interested. I wanted to know about things, tear them apart. Sometimes that was naughty. But I was comfortable, contented. After I got it tore up, I'd put it back together. Even in reform school — everything was new, and I learned a lot there.

Like what? 
Aw, come on! [After a here's-trouble grin, he turns formal.] I learned how to type; I passed my CPA. But I wanted to make money instead of majoring in it!

You went to beauty school with your sister Thelma? 
Yeah, Poro College in the Ville. They were charging $5 and $8 and $10 to do hair, and I was making $2 and $3 building houses.

You also painted decorative friezes? 
There you go. I did it for the money. Snowcapped mountains aren't very hard to draw, and you only need two colors.

Why has money always been so important to you? 
Now, you're padding that question! [Turns serious.] I knew you couldn't make it without money. Money was the answer to receiving whatever you were seeking.

Are your brothers and sisters anything like you? 
Oh, I was the black sheep of the family, no doubt about it! They said I was the one that did best, got along the most, and I guess so, if money is involved.

Your parents were upstanding, proper, strict — you must've given them a heart attack with your restlessness! 
Well, they were religious, if that's strict. Oh, those Baptist hymns! Mom brought Dad into the church choir. He had a beautiful voice, very low, and he led the bass section, and Mother sang all day long.

Are you religious? 
I believe anything that's true is what's going to carry you through. Truth will shine. Truth —

Sets you free? 
Yeah. And I've been unfree, too.

You once said that if rock 'n' roll was anything, it was freedom. 
I did? Was that in my autobiography? I've been saying for the past two years, I need to read that book! Rock 'n' roll is music. That's my one-word answer. It's a mixture of a lot of music, like bluegrass. It fades into this and fades into that. Most people's impressions overlap other people's impressions, and music is like that, too.

You've traveled the world, built an amusement park, laid the foundation for rock guitar and committed quite a few of what you call "naughty-naughties" ... I'd wager you're somebody who gets bored easily? 
Monotony drives me crazy.

Did you mind Sen. John McCain using "Johnny B. Goode" for his presidential campaign? 
You shouldn't fight city hall; I'm sure not going to fight the feds.

Your father once told you, "Take what you have and make what you want." Did you? 
Yeah, and "If a task is once begun, never leave it till it's done. Be its labor great or small, do it well or not at all." I learned so much from my dad. Horse sense, too. He worked for a real-estate company on Chouteau, going right into white people's homes. He'd say, "If a white woman smiles at you, you never smile back."

So he had a strong effect on you? 
Yeah, when I got in high school, I couldn't get a girlfriend, 'cause he said, "Don't smile." To get a girl, you gotta smile, or something!

You grew up in the Ville, a cultured enclave of middle-class blacks. There's nothing quite like that now ... What changed? 
Pride. And the morals have bent a little from the olden days. A lot goes on that would never have been dreamed about with teenagers today.

At age 4, you saw white people and said they glowed like light bulbs? 
They were firemen, and the light was flickering, and I thought, "Boy, these people are something. They glow!"

You ran into a lot of racism in the early years. What stung the most? 
Well, I don't get so much of it now, because of the fame. I'm enjoying much of a free life, and people treat me way better than they did when I was young: I go to the casino, and women I don't even know speak to me, n-i-i-i-i-ce looking women. But I had noses turned up when I was young.

When you toured in the South, you coined one of your famous words: "hospitaboo." What is it again — hospitality mixed with taboo? 
It's those people who speak to you and don't even know you — yet they didn't speak to me when I was growing up, because I was black.

What conditions need to be right for you to perform? 
I can work with a symphony orchestra, a jazz orchestra, a school band. It's just if they know music just as well as I do. Which is only from a magazine that had the guitar chords printed. I put my hands where the dots were and came along from there.

Who would you have liked to play with? 
Nat Cole. Tommy Dorsey. And really, with my mom. She'd sing hymns, and I'd follow along trying to do my dad's part, get the bass as low as I could. Me and my mom could have had a show together.

She must've been proud of you. 
She always used to say, "That boy's gonna be a millionaire."

It's been said, "The more you find out about Chuck Berry, the less you know about him." True? 
That could be. 'Cause there's a lot of me.

So have you and Joe Edwards [Blueberry Hill's owner, and one of the few people Berry trusts] booked your 100th birthday celebration? 
Not since I planned to open up for George Burns' 100th. I don't plan too far ahead anymore.

What's hardest about getting older? 
Getting near the crossroads. Biblically, heaven or hell.

So you believe in hell? 
I believe in anything that I know.

Where do you think you'll wind up? 
I don't predict such things.

Is there anything you still want, here on Earth? 
Yes, I want to add about 20 more years. Not more than 20, though, 'cause 3-D will be in, and you won't know whether you're really living.

What would your life have been like if you had become a CPA? 
I'd be poorer, I think. And I don't know whether people would like me just because I straightened some figures out for them. When you sing for people, you create a feeling. I'm just creating the effect in them — but they are saying I'm doing it.

How does it feel to lift so many people's hearts, give them instant energy, get them dancing? 
It feels like one feels when another says they love you.

Berry goes downstairs, puts on a spangly turquoise shirt and steps onstage. Members of the audience yell, clap, dance, flash cameras and accompany him on "My Ding-a-Ling," filling in the blanks of the charmingly raunchy song that, unbelievably, was the only one of his legendary hits to top the pop charts. He sings classics like "Nadine," does his famous original guitar licks and the stomps, hops and kicks of a far younger man, plays bluesy rock with his daughter Ingrid on harmonica and his son Charles Berry Jr. on guitar. Then, after extolling the virtues of "enchiladas and old El Dorados that shine," not to mention women and wine, he sings, "They tell me it ain't good for me, but I'm still feelin' fine." Soon after, he waves his guitar by the neck in a single noncommittal farewell and steps offstage.

He's long gone when the crowd, drunk on rock, starts singing "Happy Birthday" to him. There's a reason Chuck Berry was the first inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and performed at Bill Clinton's inaugural, and had a clip of his music put into the Voyager I spacecraft.

Whether he likes the adulation or not, it'll never stop.

Source: Karen Ross

Chuck Berry home on National Register
Thursday, 18. December 2008 - 17:25

Chuck Berry's former home added to the national register of historic places
December 15, 2008

A historic honor for rock and roll legend Chuck Berry. His former home in North St. Louis has been added to the national register of historic places.  

In an exclusive interview Chuck Berry said he was surprised that the home would receive such recognition.

"I heard about that.  I appreciate it a real lot, in fact something I bought for four thousand five hundred dollars is going to be in a history book?  You know, come on.  I appreciate it very much." Chuck Berry - Rock & Roll Legend

The home is at 3137 Whittier in the greater Ville Neighborhood.  Chuck Berry lived there from 1950 to 1958. He said his three daughters were born there and that he wrote many of his hit songs there including Maybelline.

"Somebody put a banister around the front porch. I built that front porch by the way. And I moved, Maybelline hit, before I got the banister on it and I moved out." Chuck Berry

The Landmark Association of St. Louis,  which nominated the home, said the listing came as a surprise since the 82 year old Chuck Berry is still alive and performing.  

A certificate from the national register of historic places will be sent to the current owner of the home, a real estate company in Washington State.

Source: Johan Hasselberg

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
Sunday, 14. December 2008 - 13:13

We want to wish all visitors of 


Let It Rock!!!

Tina Turner World Tour 2008/2009
Monday, 08. December 2008 - 19:45

"Stand By Your Man"
"What You See Is What You Get"
"Steamy Windows"


October 01, 2008 | Kansas City, MO
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December 06, 2008 | Hartford, CT

November 13, 2008 | Toronto, ON
December 08, 2008 | Montreal, QC
December 10, 2008 | Montreal, QC
December 12, 2008 | Toronto, ON
December 13, 2008 | Toronto, ON


January 14, 2009 | Kolnarena, Cologne (Germany)
January 15, 2009 | Kolnarena, Cologne (Germany)
January 18, 2009 | Kolnarena, Cologne (Germany)
January 19, 2009 | Kolnarena, Cologne (Germany)
January 22, 2009 | Sportpaleis, Antwerp (Belgium)
January 23, 2009 | Sportpaleis, Antwerp (Belgium)
January 26, 2009 | O2 World, Berlin (Germany)
January 27, 2009 | O2 World, Berlin (Germany)
January 30, 2009 | Color Line Arena, Hamburg (Germany)
January 31, 2009 | Color Line Arena, Hamburg (Germany)

February 03, 2009 | Color Line Arena, Hamburg (Germany)
February 04, 2009 | SAP Arena, Hannover (Germany)
February 07, 2009 | Stadhalle, Vienna (Austria)
February 08, 2009 | Stadhalle, Vienna (Austria)
February 11, 2009 | Sportpaleis, Antwerp (Belgium)
February 12, 2009 | Sportpaleis, Antwerp (Belgium)
February 15, 2009 | Hallenstadion, Zurich, (Switzerland)
February 16, 2009 | Hallenstadion, Zurich, (Switzerland)
February 19, 2009 | SAP-Arena, Manheim (Germany)
February 20, 2009 | SAP-Arena, Manheim (Germany)
February 23, 2009 | Olympiahalle, München (Germany)
February 24, 2009 | Olympiahalle, München (Germany)
February 27, 2009 | Olympiahalle, München (Germany)
February 28, 2009 | Olympiahalle, München (Germany)

MARCH 2009
March 03, 2009 | O2 Arena, London (England)
March 04, 2009 | O2 Arena, London (England)
March 07, 2009 | O2 Arena, London (England)
March 08, 2009 | O2 Arena, London (England)
March 11, 2009 | O2 Arena, London (England)
March 16, 2009 | Paris, Palais Omnisports de Bercy (France)
March 17, 2009 | Paris, Palais Omnisports de Bercy (France)
March 21, 2009 | Arnhem, Gelredome (The Netherlands)
March 22, 2009 | Arnhem, Gelredome (The Netherlands)
March 26, 2009 | Dublin, The O2 (Ireland)
March 27, 2009 | Dublin, The O2 (Ireland)
March 30, 2009 | Manchester, MEN Arena,(England)
March 31, 2009 | Manchester, MEN Arena,(England)

APRIL 2009
April 03, 2009 | Manchester, MEN Arena,(England)
April 04, 2009 | Manchester, MEN Arena,(England)
April 07, 2009 | Birmingham, NIA,(England)
April 08, 2009 | Birmingham, NIA,(England)
April 11, 2009 | Dublin, The O2 (Ireland)
April 12, 2009 | Dublin, The O2 (Ireland)

Source: Wolfgang Guhl

Little Richard celebrated 76th birthday
Saturday, 06. December 2008 - 17:40

A  Giant In Music Celebrates His Birthday
Little Richard turned 76 on December 5th 2008

We would like to wish him a Happy Birthday,
many happy returns, a speedy recovery
from his upcoming hip surgery and a rockin' 2009!!!

Chuck Berry International Directory Volume 2 out now
Saturday, 06. December 2008 - 17:40

Chuck Berry International Directory Volume 2

The second of four volumes in this extensive reference work dedicated to rock'n'roll's most influential guitarist and composer, Chuck Berry. It contains details of bootlegs; radio albums; movies; TV shows; video and DVD releases; international tour itineraries; hits, achievements and awards; Berry's songs, roots, and influence on other artists; tributes; Chuck Berry in print; fan clubs and websites; plus annotated discographies of pianist Johnnie Johnson (post-Berry) and the ultimate Berry copyist, Eddy Clearwater.


Source: Morten Reff

"Cadillac Records" - the movie
Saturday, 06. December 2008 - 17:40

'Cadillac Records' offers quite a ride

Tale of '50s-'60s music label and its stars' ups and downs is a most realistic portrait

By Michael Sragow
December 5, 2008

In the 1950s and '60s, American Jews and blacks had two glorious, complex and sometimes-fractious partnerships: civil rights and recording rights. Writer-director Darnell Martin goes for the throat of this killer subject in the scintillating Cadillac Records. Adrien Brody plays Leonard Chess, the Jewish founder of Chess Records who made the Cadillac his label's car of choice. In the 1950s, he put Muddy Waters and then Chuck Berry on the nation's turntables, and paid Alan Freed and other DJs to put them on the air.

Thus did Chess, Waters, Berry and Freed invent rock 'n' roll.

Unapologetic in his pursuit of the popular-art division of the American Dream, in all its materialistic splendor, Chess awarded himself and his artists, including the brilliant harpist or harmonica player Little Walter (Columbus Short) and the desperately bluesy and haunting Etta James ( Beyonce Knowles), with brand-new Caddies to mark each landmark success.

Banning sermons or bogus good taste from her juicy anecdotal history, Martin (whose first film was the engaging I Like It Like That) conveys both the erotic sizzle of hot new music riding up the charts and the overall sensory excitement of minorities making it in America.

She paints on a large canvas and doesn't fill every spot. But her film has more vitality and perceptions than many a more-perfect movie. Time magazine has already scolded her for putting the foibles of its characters upfront. Actually, the film's matter-of-fact portrait of Chess Records as a blend of function and dysfunction may be its biggest strength.

In a couple of remarkably subtle yet full-bodied performances, Brody's Chess and Jeffrey Wright's Muddy Waters evoke a creative partnership and friendship that mixes brotherhood with mutual exploitation.

Chess assumes a fatherly power. He says he'll take care of his employees - and unlike later faux-moguls, in most cases, he does. Cadillac Records depicts how that attitude can turn into abrasive paternalism, but it also shows how it enables Chess to treat Waters as his No. 1 star after Chuck Berry starts selling more records.

Filmmaker Martin has the smarts to see that developing a voracious ego is part of what makes pop volcanoes possible. Wright's Waters celebrates himself as a hot-blooded man with a savvy conviction and exuberance that make him seem 100 percent authentic. He radiates a genuine earthy appeal even when Willie Dixon (the always welcome Cedric the Entertainer) writes songs for him in the Muddy Waters manner. You consider Wright's Waters the last word in sexual and professional confidence - until Eamonn Walker makes his entrance and is so scary-good as Howlin' Wolf that for minutes at a time he wipes the other great players off the screen.

In Martin's view, Howlin' Wolf embodies a step forward in black manliness that rejects any dependency on a boss like Chess - and Walker puts that interpretation over with a ferocity that must be called black-comic. Other sources say that Wolf's antipathy to Waters (who brought Wolf to Chess) was more a matter of psychotic competition than identity politics.

In either case, Martin's approach opens up questions that reverberate through the entire cast of characters. In Cadillac Records, Waters as well as Chess must take responsibility for not being their brother's keeper - the brother in question being that sometime hit-maker and nonpareil harmonicat Little Walter. They're part of the problem, not the cure, when impulsiveness, substance abuse and gambling take their toll on Little Walter. (He is sadly in love with Waters' main squeeze, a self-sacrificing nurse played by the hard-to-resist Gabrielle Union.)

Walter collapses as an individual after Chess demotes him from star to side-player - and Waters does nothing to protect his pal's position. But true to the rest of the film, Short is never merely pathetic even when he's pitiable. He splutters like nobody else even when he goes down in flames.

Of course, Leonard Chess also has an ego - and Brody offers an outstanding demonstration of how a real "record man" turns ego into professional pride. His Leonard Chess may not be a musical innovator. But once his musicians persuade him to back their innovations, he won't be swerved from capturing them on record. He takes pride in his marriage, too, and holds it inviolate. Then Etta James draws forth every ounce of his protective drive, and in the process, touches his heart. Earning the respect she started to win with Dreamgirls, Knowles comes into her own as an actress playing James as an impossibly needy, extravagantly gifted, nearly always over-the-edge artist.

Audiences may wish filmmaker Martin had done more to fill in Chess' relationships with James and with his elegant wife and his partner-brother Phil. And there are other disappointments. Mos Def can be deliriously entertaining as a cagey, self-aware Chuck Berry, but perhaps because of clumsy staging and editing, he can't seem to make his feet move with the same rhythm as his shoulders, not even for Berry's famous duck walk.

Yet Cadillac Records still has buoyancy to spare. It's filled with bumps and scratches. But in the manner of a nicked old LP, its gnarly surface and warps-and-all sound evokes real life.

Cadillac Records
(TriStar Pictures) Starring Adrien Brody, Beyonce Knowles, Jeffrey Wright, Mos Def. Directed by Darnell Martin. Rated R for language and sexuality. Time 109 minutes.,0,6448032.story


YouTube helped Mos Def play Chuck Berry

NEW YORK, Dec. 2 (UPI) --

U.S. actor and hip-hop artist Mos Def says he watched Chuck Berry footage on YouTube to prepare for playing the music icon in Cadillac Records.

I read his (self-titled) autobiography, which is a very good read, Def told reporters in New York Monday.

YouTube was really helpful, he recalled. The autobiography was really helpful because a lot of it is written in the manner in which you would imagine Chuck Berry speaking if he were writing an autobiography, which is sort of flowery and it has this kind of gentlemanly type of story-telling quality to it and you find that a lot in his lyrics. That was one thing, watching clips of him that (writer-director) Darnell (Martin) and the producers had provided me with was very helpful and listening to the music, but also listening to the lyrics. I think the lyrical aspect that touched Mr. Berry's work is very unique and very distinctive; it's something that really sets him apart from the generation of performers that he came up in and sets him apart in general.

Asked if he had the chance to talk with Berry while preparing to portray him on-screen, Def quipped: No. Chuck Berry was busy. He was too busy to talk to Mos Def about playing Chuck Berry ... He had previous engagements, which was cool.

Source: Johan Hasselberg