News Archive

Chuck Berry UK Tour UPDATE
Tuesday, 29. December 2009 - 18:56

So far there is no sign of Chuck Berry's UK Tour being rescheduled as originally announced.
Most ticket holders of the November Tour have not received a refund.

Source: Wolfgang Guhl

A cover story about Chuck Berry by Carmelo Genovese
Tuesday, 22. December 2009 - 19:59

HAIL HAIL ROCK'N'ROLL! The golden age of Chuck Berry at Chess Records

By Carmelo Genovese
Translation (Italian to English): Thomas Rund

He created the vocabulary of rock and was the first poet and guitar
hero. He entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for first and today, 81
years old, is still ready to jump on stage with his Gibson. His
repertoire is the best in the 50 recorded for Chess Records. Those
records are now combined in a boxed set celebrating the fiftieth
anniversary of the most famous songs of rockers, "Johnny B. Goode. Is
how, when and why Chuck Berry became the first anti-hero of rock'n'roll.

When in 1977, NASA sent into space the spacecraft Voyager I, was
included inside the Golden Record, a special disk containing sounds and
music samples of culture on the planet Earth. These included, inter
alia, compositions of Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Stravinsky, singing
traditional Indian, Chinese, Mexican and Johnny B. Goode. Shortly
after, as revealed with humorously surreal humor of Steve Martin on
Saturday Night Live, got the first message from extraterrestrials:
"Send more Chuck Berry."
Now that the first wave of rock and roll belongs to the era of
Paleozoic rock music is hard to understand how music has contributed to
cultural and social revolution of the 50's has projected that the
Western world in the future. It was America that was left behind 30
years of hardships and tragedies of World War II. America and the
economic boom of births that are proposed as the beacon of modern
democracy by affirming the supremacy of capitalism over communism. The
great nation that opened the issue of civil rights and prepared to
conquer space. As noted by the critic Peter Guralnick, "to really
understand the magic of rock and roll should be thrown back in the
America of Eisenhower." That soon became the America of Elvis, messiah
that in the few moments in which for the first time he rocked her
pelvis earlier generations grow old at once, triggering the sexual
liberation and mix the different colors of the American Society
nell'impetuoso song liberating that he drew no inhibitions to the black
tradition. Still remained in the collective America Elvis, but in music
nobody knew how to interpret and represent the best of Chuck Berry, the
first poet of rock and roll. Ingenuity and ambition. Attention to
detail and keen ability to observe what was happening around him. A
great talent in being able to distill the noise impact of the era of
swing, the feeling of the blues el'enfasi rhythm guitar style of
country music in a exciting and expressive. The black hillbilly that
intrigued and attracted a multiracial at Cosmopolitan Club in East St.
Louis (he still remembers that "the mere audacity of a black man who
played country & western sensation the show was becoming easier") soon
became the singer of youth American 50 years telling with vivid images
of everyday living. In the infinite panorama of talents of the period,
from Fats Domino to Roy Orbison, from Bo Diddley and Little Richard and
Gene Vincent to Jerry Lee Lewis, to Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly,
Chuck Berry's work still stands as the quintessence of the magical
formula of rock.
Without making unnecessary classifications. Art is art. The feeling is
feeling. Rock Around The Clock by Bill Haley still marks time like a
few songs have since done. And dozens of other unknown rockers have
managed to achieve perfection, even if only for the time of a single
song. But Berry's insights remain as the most important legacy in the
economy of a music that has evolved in style and content. It is no
coincidence that the first single by the Rolling Stones, Come On, was a
song by Berry, as the first time that Jagger and Richards turned the
floor was because one of them had some records by Chuck Berry in his
hand. And it is telling that to open their first concert in the United
States, the Coliseum in Washington DC, the Beatles chose Roll Over

It was stressed that the production quality of Berry in the 50s is
impressive when you consider that in just four years from May 1955 to
July 1959, the musician in St. Louis wrote and recorded dozens of songs
immortal. Now, finally, the engravings of that period are collected in
a box full retrospective (the only exception of two rare recordings
made in the previous year as a session man on his debut at Chess
Johnny B. Goode: His Complete '50s Chess Recordings takes its cue from
the first fifty years of the song that was chosen to give the title to
the box. And still better represents the collective imagination.
Published March 31, 1958, Johnny B. Goode, contains two key elements
that make it so fascinating: the text, which for the first time,
celebrates the American dream in rock and roll, and the figures of
guitar pyrotechnics, which will become one of the standards of the most
performed and influential modern popular music .
Berry said that the song was inspired during one of his first concerts
in New Orleans, the place where centuries earlier had reached the ships
loaded with slaves. See now the city plastered with posters on which
was reported in large letters his name made him think about the past
and ongoing change in American society. In the song retrospective box
is presented in two versions that allow you to see how it was built.
Were recorded in the first recording the voice and all instruments.
Berry's guitar, as well as rhythm, performs the first part of the
introduction and the famous instrumental breaks. In the second
alternative Berry overdubbed guitar parts that engage onto perfectly
with the solo parts already recorded and that, taken together,
represent a perfect synthesis of his style. The initial bulldozing
recalls to mind the slide of Elmore James, the use of research bichords
sounds the horn section of tympani Five by Louis Jordan, the repeated
bending backbeat accents come directly from T-Bone Walker. A magical
synthesis that helped to pick up the tool to thousands of kids: among
them were Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix through his music
that goes back to the origins of the blues.
The text of Johnny B. Goode has some curiosity in the drafting of the
original song, the protagonist was a "colored boy" and then purified in
"country boy" or risk alienating radio airplay. And the opening "Deep
down in Louisiana close to New Orleans" was inspired by "I'm goin 'down
in Louisiana, baby, behind the sun", from Louisiana Blues by Muddy
Waters. The great bluesman in Chicago was perhaps the biggest hero of
Chuck Berry and these, in the spring of 1955 he managed to meet him
after a memorable evening in which, wandering around the clubs of the
city had seen in concert including Howlin 'Wolf and Elmore James. And
it was Muddy Waters to direct the enterprising Berry to Chess Records.
Asked to return original material a few days later, Berry showed up
with something in the ears of Leonard Chess played really special. It
was a song that blends the speed of the country with the intensity of R
& B, Ida May. During the first recording session he changed the title
to "Maybellene" and, just published, was scheduled around the clock
since Alan Freed (the deejay and promoter who claimed in youth culture,
the term rock and roll) by pushing at the top of national rankings. It
is a pleasure to be affected by the final song with a remastered sound
to match. As they move along the first masterpieces of his repertoire,
from "Thirty Days" and "You Can not Catch Me (where even the singing
of" radio tuned to rock and roll ") to" Brown Eyed Handsome Man, Roll
Over Beethoven and Too Much Monkey Business, l 'only regret is the lack
of unpublished first period, since it seems that to save the Chess
recycle tapes for new recordings. This of course until, with the
success of the first releases of Berry, the cash flow starts to become
more interesting ... Instead there are two live recordings at Camel
Rock and Roll Dance Party in New York, presented by Alan Freed and
probably find the piano Count Basie. Particularly minor but because the
sound is literally dominated by the public's enthusiasm for a moment
that brings to life the incredible atmosphere of that period. From the
earliest recordings is evident the great contribution of Johnnie
Johnson, pianist extraordinary and perfect partner into the artistic
style of the songs, which shows the greatest originality especially in
faster songs like "Maybellene," Thirty Days "and Brown Eyed Handsome
Man (the first piece in music that celebrated black pride), in which
the piano seems to go on his own, following different melodic lines
that extend the harmonic structure of the songs, underscoring their
inspiration liberating.

Freedom, independence, motion, conquest, the automobile as a symbol of
emancipation and escape to their own dimension. These are the issues
that dominate the songs of Berry and that led him to be compared to
Walt Whitman, the historical author of Leaves of Grass, a hundred years
earlier had celebrated the equation = free trip to the meaning that is
of the just because they are always moving beyond the importance of
having any destination.
The issue of independence will become a constant in all his work was
celebrated beautifully in "Almost Grown, and later in the 60s, with No
Particular Place To Go" and the popular You Never Can Tell, a piece of
that several years later will be screened for ever a new dimension with
the inclusion in Pulp Fiction. With the innate ability to observe the
change, the singer-songwriter rock tunes even more before his time on
issues dear to American teenagers. Roll Over Beethoven and Rock And
Roll Music are the tipping point where the music begins to build the
identity of the rock and roll.
It is an important process, because it takes self-awareness, and states
its values. "Roll Over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news!", "Just
let me hear some of that rock and roll music!", Are the first
celebrations of the new idiom. "He sticks the coin into the slot, you
need to feel something really strong," suggests in School Day at the
end of a hard day at school. "Long live rock and roll, the beat of the
drum is loud and bold". The beating of the drums loud and proud
striking on several levels: it's the beat of the music, who in School
Day presents for the first time the accent typical of rock that will
come in the next decade, and is perhaps reminiscent of the drums Congo
Square in New Orleans, where blacks slaves were allowed to assemble on
Sunday mornings to play and sing. "Deliver me from the days of old!" Is
the last hope, and in this sentence, the message can be decrypted with
different keys to reading for teenagers is liberation from the world of
adults, for blacks from what could be racial segregation entailed.
The year just ended saw the start of the season of struggles for civil
rights that had found support in a Supreme Court decision and to
conclude the story of Rosa Parks, a teacher of color who had rebelled
against the rules segregationist Alabama . Berry also become the
subject of prejudice and injustice for being reluctant to let the frame
boundaries of the ancient stereotype of black submissive and ignorant.
Resourceful in other areas, Berry opened a multiracial clientele in the
local center of Saint Louis and bought a large estate on the edge of
Wentzville, Missouri, dubbed Berry Park, with the intention of making
it a great playground and organize concerts. The establishment of the
Saint Louis immediately took aim at the first opportunity and in 1960
he was sentenced to prison for bringing a minor from Texas to Missouri
to make it work in his room. The stubborn and a clear propensity to get
into trouble then have caused some negative experiences that have
helped to create the character who shuns interviews and grumpy live on
the margins of show business. And this would be a matter for further
consideration in order to understand better the man and the artist. It
is certainly revealing that a genuine icon of contemporary popular
music for thirty years no longer has a recording contract. The last
disc contains new original songs is Rock It, released in 1979 for the
Atlantic. From that moment they are cyclical chased rumors of new
record releases regularly disregarded in practice. In the 80 fire at
Berry Park seems to have destroyed some master ready for publication
and in 2001 it is certain that Berry has recorded new songs in a studio
in St. Louis. But then if they have not heard anything. The
explanation, implicitly, was given the same Berry in a recent
interview: "In a way I would not be very polite to try to overcome
myself. The music I play now has become a ritual, something that is
important to people in a special way. I would not want to risk
interfering with this special relationship. "

While other monuments of American music, as BB King, Jerry Lee Lewis
and Fats Domino were the subject of commemorative projects, Berry is
still the maverick who tries to avoid the lights of a stage where are
the others running the show. So his business for over twenty years is
now focussed on live with ups and downs. In recent years, thanks to
Charles and Ingrid children who play with him, going around with the
same band and the average quality of its performances, when he is with
them, I gained a lot. But for a long time his understanding of live
music has given rise to anecdotes on which it could write entire books.
Annoyed by the side effects that alcohol and drugs cause the economy of
the rock band, Berry since the 60's began to go out alone with his
guitar, asking in each city a band with him. "My songs have a simple
structure and all the rock musician should know." Bottom was not wrong
because they had gone out hundreds of cover. The fact is that they are
never in the soundcheck for tests, and once took the stage, did not
communicate to the musicians or the lineup of songs, or the tone in
which they were executed. An introduction to guitar and on. And rock
and roll, as Ricky would say Giancarlo. Famous is the story that made
Bruce Springsteen in the film Hail! Hail! Rock'n'Roll, beautiful Taylor
Hackford's documentary about Chuck Berry, when he recalls a fun evening
away in 1973 when he was to accompany him with his band. The Boss said
that at one point Berry turned to them urging them to play well and
saying "Come on boys, Gain pays." Perhaps pretending not to know that
probably the promoter had them play for free. Berry's relationship with
the organizers deserve a separate chapter. Having taken, like many
other black musicians, many setbacks early in his career, Berry decided
to make the manager himself. One day, recounts in his autobiography,
then traveled two thousand miles to be playing for a few dozen kids in
front of an ice cream kiosk. After the concert organizer handed him a
fistful of dollars, saying "There were few people. That's all I can
give you. I'm sorry. " So he took a simple precaution that in a few
years began to be commonly known within the rock business as the "Chuck
Berry Deal: 50% of the payment when you set the date of the concert and
the remaining 50% before going on stage. Since the 80s, even the final
installment shall be due on the contract even before I step on the
plane that will take him to destination. They know something the
unlucky organizers of a concert which was to be held in Milan in
November 1990. Orpheus Theater sold out and not even the shadow of
legend: he had left Germany, where he was on tour, returning to the
United States since he was to receive the payment provided by the
Italian organizers had not been executed. Woe to disregard his
contract. Where it is always expected that you do find a luxury
Mercedes with an automatic transmission at the airport, then, even
today, personal guidance. Bo Diddley, his fellow adventurers in the
beginning that Chess was literally robbed of his copyright, he has
always expressed his admiration for his way of doing business. But, as
it may seem hard to believe, the money did not seem to be all things to
Chuck Berry. I was fortunate on several occasions, to be able to
observe closely and a couple of times, even to converse with him in a
family environment. What most impressed me was his deep respect and
affection for the fans of his music. Despite what he sometimes leads
others to think, Chuck Berry is still his good vibrations with guitar
in hand. In this sense, the 100 Club in London to see him show up at
soundcheck and listen to sound for more than 30 minutes and that there
was no technical need for (the sounds they had already made James and
his son Charles Marsala) was revealing. When he attacked the original
Rockin 'At The Philharmonic seemed to be projected back in time in
1957, as Marty McFly in Back to the future, imagine to find in the
Chess studios in Chicago with Willie Dixon on bass, Fred Below on drums
and Johnnie Johnson on piano. Was the session of Reelin 'And Rockin'
and Sweet Little Sixteen. That was his biggest success in the 50
ranking: "They're really rockin 'in Boston, Pittsburgh, P., Deep in the
Heart of Texas and' round the Frisco Bay All over St. Louis Way Down in
New Orleans, all the cats want to dance with Sweet Little Sixteen. "
A perfect snapshot of rock and roll craze in which for the first time
using the technique of mentioning different geographic locations, which
then takes in Back In The USA and Promised Land, in order to trigger
identification processes in listeners. In the new box of Sweet Little
Sixteen you can discover the genesis in recording studio, through five
consecutive versions. And it is interesting to note that Leonard Chess
in the end decided to speed up the song slightly, to develop the final
master in order to bring out the voice of Berry on a higher register,
almost certainly to do it "play" closer adolescents who were the clear
target of the disc. Johnnie Johnson adds excitement and emphasis to the
final result.
Much has been said about the contribution of Johnson in the
compositions of Berry. And in 2001 there has been a bitter tail in
their relationship when the pianist, badly advised, had sued Berry
seeking recognition of a part of copyright for a few songs. The Court
then ruled adversely arguing that too many years had passed to judge.
The fact that Johnson has never written a significant piece before,
during or after intercourse with Berry may suggest, even if his lack of
ambition and his problems with alcohol he had limited opportunities
during the entire course of his career. Johnson, who passed away in
2005, he had reconciled with Berry and the fruit of their collaboration
is one of the most exquisite in the entire history of rock music even
though we must not forget that other pianists like Otis Spann (in You
Can not Catch Me and No Money Down) and Lafayette Leake (in Rock And
Roll Music "and" Johnny B. Goode) have played with equally brilliant
results in the songs of Chuck Berry. Rather, listening to two long
instrumental jam in the new box, which dominates the scene in the piano
style of Johnson, the question arises why to Chess have never thought
to publish some records of this great pianist.
As in "Sweet Little Sixteen, interestingly, even for Rock And Roll
Music the progression of the idea in different takes. And the song that
will be taken up successfully by the Beatles and Beach Boys, Etta James
before he invents the most beautiful in the film version of "Hail!
Hail! Rock'n'Roll, has a different take each charm with variations in
rhythm and arrangement. Thereby showing that, while the freshness and
spontaneity typical of the style of Berry, there was an effort of
production was not indifferent to which contribute significantly Willie
Dixon and Leonard Chess. Equally curious are the recordings of "Almost
Grown, in which the choruses were present a young Marvin Gaye and Etta
James, the same that before turning Hail! Hail! Rock'n'Roll Berry
barely remembered, only to remain absolutely won over by his talent and
paying homage more sincere during the concert movie from Hackford.

What seems obvious listening to the whole of the Chess recordings of
the 50s is the mix of musical influences (blues, boogie, hillbilly,
swing, calypso and Latin music), which were then distilled into its
most famous songs, and discover gems that are often overlooked . This
is the case of the beautiful blues instrumental Deep Feeling, performed
the steel guitar, which was obviously inspired to compose the Fleetwood
Mac Albatross, ol'originale Havana Moon with a voice in the foreground
and an elegantly minimalist accompaniment. It is also enlightening to
find that Berry, as a pioneer of DIY, he played all the instruments
when he recorded two classics such as 'Round and' Round and Memphis
Tennessee, the latter even recorded in his office in St. Louis. With so
many masterpieces in his discography is disappointing that the only
number one ranking in his career was reached with My Ding-A-Ling, a
nursery rhyme from the hottest double meanings recorded live (from her
record but without his knowledge) in England in 1972 which shocked the
British and conformists was banned by the bigoted Mary Whitehouse.
Instead he left the second place no less than Burning Love by Elvis
Presley and, above all, earned him a lot of money. Moreover, in one of
his most famous phrases Berry said sardonically that the most exciting
of his career was one in which the BMI (SIAE American, if we can
define) cut off a check for one million dollars . The success of "My
Ding-A-Ling and album The London Rock And Roll Sessions had relaunched
his career skyrocketing requests live. From that period, in August
1972, was the legendary London Rock And Roll Show, in which Berry
performed after an impressive line-up consists of Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee
Lewis, Bill Haley and Little Richard.
After all, if you look well the parable of Chuck Berry, one can
conclude that its ideal size has always been to live. Once you have
found fame and wrote his most famous songs in the so called "golden
decade, ranging from 1955 to 1964, Berry has always preferred to stand
on a stage in front of his audience, rather than be locked in a
recording studio. Traveling, playing without too many constraints. Fun
to go around the world are impromptu performances with its icon and the
true spirit of rock and roll. A flash: Rome, was the month of July 1987
and steps of the Palazzo del Lavoro Civilization dell'Eur were divided
into two sectors for its concert. He had a great band. With Johnnie
Johnson on piano and the same rhythm section of color that a year
before had played with him at the Cosmopolitan in Saint Louis in the
opening scene of "Hail! Hail! Rock'n'Roll. After only a few seconds of
the introduction of his famous guitar, like a call to arms, the public
sector spans more economical and breaks down barriers and security
literally pouring with impetuous enthusiasm under the stage and started
dancing to the tune of Roll Over Beethoven. A flash of deep
satisfaction shining in his eyes while watching that scene. The rhythm
of his music becomes more intense. Shortly after squats on his Gibson
and nell'acrobatico duck walk across the stage all leaning forward
between the roar of the audience.
Was the great Chuck Berry.

Source: Carmelo Genovese

Chuck Berry To Be Honored With Statue Near Blueberry Hill
Saturday, 19. December 2009 - 12:40

Chuck Berry To Be Honored With Statue Near Blueberry Hill

Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer To Be Honored With 8-Foot-Tall Bronze

December 16, 2009

UNIVERSITY CITY, MO ( KPLR ) - Chuck Berry was the first entertainer inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, and now plans are underway to immortalize the musical legend in St. Louis on the Delmar Loop. Chuck Berry, 83, has been in the music industry for more than 60 years. He still performs once a month in the Duck Room at Blueberry Hill, but you'll soon be able to see him everyday in the loop, thanks to the efforts of Joe Edwards, KMOX Radio's Charlie Brennen and Bill McClelland of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

There are plans underway to unveil an 8-foot statue of the musical legend. They want to raise $65,000 to immortalize Berry in bronze. Blueberry Hill Owner Joe Edwards says the statue captures every essence of the performer, "It just shows motion. You can see Chuck's hand strumming that guitar, his leg is kicked up. He is in performance and when this is done 8 feet tall and installed, you'll even be able to see greater detail."

The statue is being created by Harry Weber, the same artist who created the statue of another St. Louis great, Bob Gibson, "He's a great St. Louisan. Born and raised here, stayed here his entire life, very loyal to St. Louis, so I'm real proud that he plays at Blueberry Hill, plus it's fun, great music."

When it's finished and unveiled this summer, Edwards says the statue will be permanently displayed across from Blueberry Hill in the U City Loop, "Is right across from that brick archway is that'll come down in the new Centennial Greenway, the new Chuck Berry Plaza will be created, and the 8-foot statue will be installed there later this year."

Edwards adds, "Let's recognize St. Louis' most famous citizen, the man who affected our culture in the biggest way and little by little, it's on the way."

All donors will receive a personal invitation to the statue dedication ceremony in 2010.

Tax deductible donations can be mailed to: Chuck Berry Statue 6504 Delmar Boulevard

St. Louis, Missouri 63130

Or PayPal contributions can be made at

Source: Wolfgang Guhl

Little Richard, out of hospital, celebrates his 77th birthday
Saturday, 05. December 2009 - 13:25

Little Richard released from hospital

100 Club Chuck Berry pictures completed
Saturday, 05. December 2009 - 13:25

Another 20 pictures complete the collection of 100 Club pictures.

Source: Carmelo Genovese