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Bebop Spoken There

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Breaking News - RIP Chuck Berry.


Word has just come through that Rock and Roll legend Chuck Berry died earlier today (March 18) aged 90.
Jazz fans will recall him from the film Jazz on a Summer's Day and Sweet Little Sixteen but his influence and appeal was far wider. I only saw him live once. I thought it was at Middlesbrough in 1978 but it wasn't so it must have been in Holland at one of the North Sea Jazz Festivals. It was a late start and my memories are somewhat vague save for that incredible duckwalk that drew more applause than any of the solos! Numbers like Johnny B. Goode and No Particular Place to Go stand out for me. For more, go to Steve T's comment.
Lance.
I've just received a heads-up from Russell that Eric Burdon is to sing a tribute to Chuck Berry on Radio 4 at 9am (Sunday March 19).

6 comments :

Steve T said...

Just read this in the middle of the night and immediately switched to news channels but nothing. In America this is massive, like Elvis, a Beatle or MJ.
Said to people at Xmas to expect this one this year. I think most people thought he died years ago.
Although I think the whole Rock and Roll narrative is pure myth - at it's best blues for teenyboppers - Chuck Berry would have been the king of rock and roll in a less racist America and was the best, alongside even more novelty oriented Little Richard, crooner Elvis, bluesier Bo Diddley and the doowop groups.
Although he essentially made the same record over and over, his riffs launched a thousand inferior white groups who made rock and roll for teenyboppers and made a fortune doing it.
He was arguably the most influential guitarist right up until the break through of Hendrix.

Russell said...

Steve, Radio 5 Live broke the news late Saturday. Dotun Adebayo devoted much of his Up All Night programme to the news (Dotun is a big music fan).

Your comments about Berry being the king of rock 'n' roll are spot on. The alternative narrative (Presley etc) is just that,the American media's preferred alternative.

The guitar riffs are legendary (launching a thousand pub bands), Berry's lyrics are second to none.

Steve T said...

Sorry Russell, have to disagree - surely not - Curtis Mayfields lyrics were second to none, and I had to read about his death in a newspaper. What colour was he again?

Russell said...

Sorry Steve...too cryptic for me!

Andy Hudson said...

I left the North East in early ’79 on the Dick Whittington trail (but without the cat!) to put on the First big jazz festival at Alexander Palace in July of that year.- you know the one that didn’t burn down.. This was the start of my partnership with George Wein another nonagenarian jazzer.
There was Hamp, BB King, Muddy Waters, Dizzy, Buddy Rich - In fact arrest the usual suspects. Included was the great musician, lyricist and especially showman Chuck Berry.
He was appearing amidst tax issues with the US government wherein much of his earnings were sequestered to pay back taxes. Those part which weren’t, but I am sure he would consequently declare, were to be paid in $100 bills in an envelope before the “artiste performed on stage”.
I recall handing the envelope to him which he duly opened, counted and put in a voluminous inside pocket, looked at me with those piercing eyes nodded and said “That’s good man.”
10 minutes later he was onstage with a scratch band that we’d put together and blew everyone away.
Jazz it wasn’t - but performance, energy and crowd engagement and reaction showed he had no peers.
Hey 90’s a good innings.
Andy

Steve T said...

Bit of cross reference with what's going on at the Sage I suppose. White people always come along and do Black Music better. How many times today will we hear that without Chuck Berry there'd have been no Beatles, no Stones, no Beach Boys, like that was his contribution.
And somebody like Curtis Mayfield who transcends soul music and twentieth century music generally and should stand with the all time greats doesn't even make it on to the news.

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