Sunday, March 19, 2017
Chuck Berry, 1926-2017
Prior to buying The Great Twenty-Eight as a new release in 1982, I thought of Chuck Berry as the guy responsible for the novelty hit “My Ding-a-Ling.” The compilation rectified that misleading impression. The euphoric aggressiveness of Berry’s earth-shaking songs was of a piece with a few of my other favorite albums of 1982, including the Clash’s Combat Rock and George Clinton’s Computer Games.
I attended my first Berry concert a year or two later. It was terrible. He was clearly going through the motions. Yet I didn’t give up. My persistence paid off the third or fourth time I saw Berry. Lou Whitney and his cohorts in the Skeletons and the Morells acted as Berry’s backing band at Parody Hall in Kansas City.
Fondly remembered in these parts as ”the best bar band ever”, the quality of Whitney’s group clearly surprised Berry. The legend became increasingly elated as his exceptional pickup band survived each of his challenges. Against his contrary inclinations, Berry went all-in on that memorable night. I never saw him try half as hard again. Berry died yesterday.
(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)