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RIP Chuck Berry

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Posted (edited)

 

 

 

In the ****ing 50's. Probably just as freaky to see as Jimi was in the 60s. Maybe even more so.

Edited by STBonecrusher21
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Definitely one of the guys that started it all.

 

RIP

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Chuck Berry: from enduring Jim Crow to a comeback album at age 90

 

Chuck Berry, one of rock’s principal architects, is celebrating his 90th birthday today with the announcement he will release a new album of original songs in 2017.

 

“I’m growing old! I’ve worked on this record for a long time. Now I can hang up my shoes!” he said in a statement released early on Tuesday.

 

Chuck will be his first album of new songs in 38 years. The album is a strictly local affair: it features his children Charles Berry Jr on guitar and Ingrid Berry on harmonica as well as musicians who have backed him up for more than two decades of shows at Blueberry Hill, his St Louis club in the city’s Delmar Loop neighborhood.

 

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The irony, of course, is that the pioneer who helped end racial segregation in music grew up under the weight of Jim Crow and was often a target of the system. By the time Berry released Maybellene, his first single, in 1955, he was a 29-year-old who had already served several years in state prison for stealing a car when he was a teenager, even when it was evident he was using a defective gun. The experience forced him to miss graduating high school, despite many years later becoming a chronicler of the experience for others. His popularity among white teenagers made life difficult. After he played a local dance in Meridian, Mississippi, in 1959, a small mob formed after Berry was seen returning a kiss to a white girl. He was jailed for disturbing the peace and was forced to hand over the $700 he made that night to the sheriff.

 

Berry also fell victim to corruption early in his career. Radio disc jockey Alan Freed demanded he receive a co-writing credit on Maybellene in exchange for making it a hit. An early manager also failed to give him proper attendance numbers at his live shows, which resulted in diminished returns. The experiences made Berry fiercely skeptical of promoters and record labels for the rest of his life and he developed a touring regimen of demanding cash upfront and only playing with local musicians he met moments before going onstage.

 

Like his contemporary Bo Diddley, Berry defined early rock guitar style, inspired by the precision and force of T-Bone Walker and Charlie Christian. His popularity also transcended the music due to his showmanship. Before Berry, white audiences had rarely seen a guitarist unglue himself from the floor and perform physical acrobatics like hopping on one foot or, in Berry’s case, performing the “duck walk”, his signature move, in which he squatted low to the floor and stalked the stage with one leg hanging in the air.

 

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Posted (edited)

Really glad he got that last album finished as he intended to. Hopefully it gets a release date now.

 

RIP 

Edited by Bacon

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16 hours ago, Bacon said:

Really glad he got that last album finished as he intended to. Hopefully it gets a release date now.

 

RIP 

 

I think he was even performing live recently, which is pretty stunning at that age

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12 hours ago, Malapropismic Depository said:

 

I think he was even performing live recently, which is pretty stunning at that age

 

He always has. As far as I remember, he didn't have a normal band just used local musicians in each town. Sent out sheet music to where he was playing.  He was playing even a bit last year. 

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He was playing regular gigs in St. Louis all through his 80s. Not sure if he was still doing that at the end.

 

Few thoughts.

 

1. The number of hits he wrote is just staggering

2. It's fun to watch his stuff on Youtube and notice that in every single performance, his backing band is completely different.

 

It's really sort of a shame that he never kept together any sort of band, because he probably could have kept putting out quality records if he didn't just focus on squeezing every penny out of touring and playing with whatever local hacks were available.

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The last of any evidence for live performances on YouTube are from 2014. However, I'm pretty sure he was playing through October of 2016. I had some relatives in Texas wanted tickets. Think it may have been a college or some related performance center nearby. 

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It is true that Marty McFly was instrumental in developing Chuck Berry's sound.

 

It occurs to me that the great Rock and Roll musicians of the 50's are passing out of living memory.  The people who were teenagers when Chuck Berry's hits were made and thus grew up with his music are in their late 70's and 80's now.  When I was growing up in the 80's and early 90's, people like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis were still cultural touchstones that were incredibly relevant.  Frequently referenced and parodied.  There was a friggin Elvis impersonation/joke in every comedy from roughly 1983-1994.  We're soon going to get to the point where these people are just distant legends and the average person doesn't have a lot of experience with and knowledge of their work.

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1 hour ago, stevemcqueen1 said:

It is true that Marty McFly was instrumental in developing Chuck Berry's sound.

 

It occurs to me that the great Rock and Roll musicians of the 50's are passing out of living memory.  The people who were teenagers when Chuck Berry's hits were made and thus grew up with his music are in their late 70's and 80's now.  When I was growing up in the 80's and early 90's, people like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis were still cultural touchstones that were incredibly relevant.  Frequently referenced and parodied.  There was a friggin Elvis impersonation/joke in every comedy from roughly 1983-1994.  We're soon going to get to the point where these people are just distant legends and the average person doesn't have a lot of experience with and knowledge of their work.

 

From what I can tell - except in certain cities - Oldies stations don't really exist any longer. And the Oldies stations that do exist don't really play anything from the 50s.

 

Granted, on Satellite radio and internet radio and Pandora and whatever, you can hear anything you want. I can say, "Alexa, play Chuck Berry" and be covered for 5 hours. But this stuff is gone from the culture at large.

 

It's sort of amazing because when I was growing up, the 50s were incredibly relevant. Grease...Happy Days.....Laverne and Shirley.....Back to the Future....Sha Na Na....The Buddy Holly Story....La Bamba....American Graffitti....Stand By Me.....Poodle skirts were a thing that came back in vogue when I was in middle school. Even Dirty Dancing was sort of a 50s movie (anything that looks at the culture prior to the JFK Assassination/Emergence of The Beatles).

 

I would love to see a study on the people born between 1936 and 1945 - the people who really went through high school and entered adulthood in the 50s. I'm going sort of anecdotally here, but in my family, that group of people is just gone. They all died in their 60s and early 70s. I wonder if that is the group that is really impacting those studies you see about "Americans not living as long."

 

I think that group is fascinating, because they largely kept the same lifestyle choices of their parents (again anecdotally) when it came to things like smoking, drinking, etc. but also had more sedentary lives with the modern, less healthy diet. My dad's older brother did everything unhealthy that my grandfather did, while working at a desk instead of loading steel coils on trucks all day. He also ate fast food and the stuff that emerged in the 50s and 60s while my grandfather ate in a restaurant three times a year. Baby Boomers at least figured out how you were supposed to live healthy even if they didn't follow it.

 

I had a cousin who was a year or two behind Sam Huff in high school; they played each other once. I swear to God, that he, his sister, his sister's husband, and like 90 percent of the people I used to see at his house on the 4th of July all died in their late 60s and early 70s

 

 

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