Jan

18

Chuck Berry, from Jeff Watson

January 18, 2010 |

Chuck BerryAlthough Chuck Berry could not be considered 'Soul', he surely influenced the genre. At 83, he still plays regular gigs and his guitar skills have not diminished. Normally, when a guitar player gets to an advanced age, he will do a few riffs and let the second lead carry the load. Berry plays his 90 minute concerts from start to finish without a second lead. He is the consummate showman, an individualist, and has never let his legal and personal problems get in the way of putting on a great show.

He's probably one of the best guitarists alive, especially since Chet Atkins is no longer with us. Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, and Eric Clapton all cited Chuck Berry as a major influence on their work. Chris Spedding (a very underrated guitarist) paid special homage to Berry in his seminal Guitar Jamboree.

Besides being a great showman, Berry really entertains his audiences and mingles with the crowd, unlike the current crop of superstars like Sting and Bono. A Chuck Berry concert makes you feel like you really got your money's worth. Chuck was considered to be so good by his peers that he was in the first class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I've seen his concerts in every decade since the 1960s and have left every concert totally uplifted. He is the definition of a true showman, with as much presence as Elvis in his prime.


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3 Comments so far

  1. JohnOS on January 18, 2010 1:42 pm

    Yes, Chuck is a genius. His influence can’t be underestimated: you mention Hendrix, Clapton and the Beatles, but what about the Stones ?

    I have to differ on the live shows though. I hear Chuck always plays with unrehearsed pick up bands, and never plays longer than his contracted 60 minutes. Both were certainly the case when I saw him at Hammersmith Apollo in the 80s. I left the show deeply disappointed by how cheaply he was treating his monumental legacy. Quite different from another veteran who always gives value for money, in my experience, in his live shows: BB King…

  2. CBII on January 18, 2010 9:47 pm

    Couple items. For the last several years, Chuck Berry has used the same line up in Europe. His daughter on voocals and harmonica (mouth organ), his son Charles Berry Jr. on second guitar, his right hand man and band leader of 37 years on bass James 'Jimmy' Marsala, Jean Biger on drums and Daniel Rossing on piano. In the USA, the Saint Louis line-up has Keith Roninson on drums and Robert Lohr on piano. The two backing bands have consistantly bring a tight formation for Chuck Berry to do his thing. To the first responder, check him outlive with either line-up, you will not be disappointed.

    And I left out his daughter’s name which is Ingrid Berry Clay.

  3. Mark Candon on January 19, 2010 10:18 am

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