Saturday, March 18, 2017

Chuck Berry Remembered

Chuck Berry performing at Hootenanny Festival in July 2010.
Photo: Robert Kinsler
Chuck Berry performing at Hootenanny Festival in July 2010.
Photo: Robert Kinsler
Sadly, rock 'n' roll has lost one of its truly great founding fathers. Chuck Berry died at his home outside of St. Louis, Missouri on Saturday, March 18, 2017. He was 90.

I saw Berry perform a number of times between 1980 and 2010. His influence as a singer, songwriter and guitar player was profound. Here are a number of photos I took when Berry, then 83, performed at the Hootenanny festival in Orange County, CA over the 4th of July weekend in 2010.

Here is a link to my review of his appearance at that festival posted on The Orange County Register website. Although I was disappointed with Berry's performance that day, I did praise his large and significant legacy in the review. I still recall the first time I saw him in 1980; that show was a wonder with Berry unleashing rapid fire guitar work while doing his famous "duck walk" across the stage!

Those wanting to catch Berry in his prime should seek out the Shout! Factory release of the T.A.M.I. Show, a 1964 concert film that was captured at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in October of that year; it features Berry performing a number of his original classics including "Johnny B. Goode," "Maybellene,"  "Sweet Little Sixteen" and "Nadine (Is It You?)."

The good news for fans of the artist is that they can look forward to new music from Berry, who used his 90th birthday celebration in October 2016 to announce the release of a new album (titled Chuck), which will mark his first new studio album release since 1979's Rock It. Read all the details here. Additionally, Billboard has an article with thoughts from someone who has heard tracks off the highly-anticipated forthcoming album.

Here is the statement from The Recording Academy regarding Berry:

Chuck Berry was arguably the founding father of rock 'n' roll. Not just because he was one of its greatest songwriters and established some of the electric guitar's earliest and most memorable riffs, but also because he was one of music's most palpably exciting entertainers and biggest personalities. His influence on the giants that followed him, such as the Beatles,  Beach Boys and many others, is well documented. Chuck received a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Recording Academy in 1984, our formal acknowledgment of his immeasurable contributions to American culture. He will be greatly missed, but the gift of his music will live on forever.
Neil Portnow

Chuck Berry shared the joy of music making with fans of all ages at his performances, including
at the Hootenanny Festival in July 2010.
Photo: Robert Kinsler

Post and photos by Robert Kinsler

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