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Saw Chuck Berry last night

Old 10-29-05, 05:08 PM
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Saw Chuck Berry last night

Got a rare opportunity to see Chuck Berry perform at a conference last night. Basically a one-hour greatest hits set. Holy Schnikes does that guy suck now. Aside from having at least FIVE songs that begin with the riff to Johnny B. Goode, I don't think that guy has any idea how to play guitar anymore. Honestly, it sounded like I was in Guitar Center with some 10 year old who had picked up the guitar for the first time. He was soloing out of key and mostly sounded like he was picking random notes from time to time. Bless an almost 70 year old man for still trying to kick it on stage, but geez, he was flat out awful.
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Old 10-29-05, 07:44 PM
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You mean bless someone who is now 79. I would love to see the man in action, regardless.
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Old 10-29-05, 08:05 PM
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Where did you see him? I would love to see the true father of rock n' roll before he leaves us.
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Old 10-29-05, 08:22 PM
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But did he play "My Ding-a-Ling"?

Sounds like the opposite experience I had seeing B.B. King a couple of years ago. He's one of those "gotta see before he dies" artists and, even at his age, but on a great show (of course, I have no frame of reference, never having seen him play before). I had a great time at that concert.
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Old 10-29-05, 10:21 PM
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I saw Chuck (with Fats Domino) in the mid-80s at the Ohio State fair. He definitely was not at his best there either. I am amazed that he is still trying at his age; haven't heard any news about him in a long time.

(and he's almost 80 , not 70. Birthday was this month)
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Old 10-29-05, 11:14 PM
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I didn't know he still played. Hopefully he didn't try to do his famous "duck walk".

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Old 10-29-05, 11:26 PM
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I thought he was dead.
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Old 10-30-05, 01:24 AM
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I just watched him in "National Lampoon's Class Reunion" this afternoon.

Never saw Chuck, but I did see Bo Diddly in 1984. He was awesome.
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Old 10-30-05, 01:11 AM
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I saw him, Little Richard and Bo Diddley last year in Honolulu. Bo did about 30 minutes, and was so-so; Little Richard did 45-55 minutes, and totally rocked (it was like he was 40 years younger than he actually is, which is around 95); Chuck did 15 minutes and SUCKED, and he was really rude and unpleasant to the backup musicians, too. I think his plan is to give as little as possible for the amount of money he's paid. I wanted to confront him backstage and demand fianacial compensation, but the promoter had whisked him off to his hotel and he was gone the next day. I won't give a shit when he dies, the nasty old fucker.
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Old 10-30-05, 04:37 AM
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Was he hiding behind a video camera taping you while you tinkled in the bathroom?
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Old 10-30-05, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by movieking
Was he hiding behind a video camera taping you while you tinkled in the bathroom?


Sad to see someone's bad decisions tarnish their legacy.
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Old 10-30-05, 05:49 PM
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He's been playing out of key for a long long time. Remember him going off on Keith Richards in the documentary when Keith tried to help him with it?
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Old 10-30-05, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by TomOpus
I didn't know he still played. Hopefully he didn't try to do his famous "duck walk".

He plays a show once a month at Blueberry Hill in St. Louis. I saw him last year and thought he did a really good job. Maybe he tries to do a good job for his home town. He played all his hits, did the Duck Walk during, "Johnny B. Goode," and led the crowd in a sing-along of "My Ding-a-ling."
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Old 10-30-05, 08:46 PM
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I don't know if this is still the case, but I think the story used to be that Chuck didn't have a band. Local musicians would be provided; Chuck would drive himself to the gig, arrive just in time for the show with no rehearsal or soundcheck, demand cash up front before taking the stage, & then get the hell out as soon as possible.
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Old 10-31-05, 12:54 AM
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I graduated college three years ago from a school in St. Louis, Missouri. About once a month, Chuck played a long set at Blueberry Hill located in the Delmar Loop. Not sure if he still plays those gigs, but it was a pretty regular thing back then. By the way, I went, he played all of his hits, and it was awesome!
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Old 10-31-05, 02:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Lokimok
I don't know if this is still the case, but I think the story used to be that Chuck didn't have a band. Local musicians would be provided; Chuck would drive himself to the gig, arrive just in time for the show with no rehearsal or soundcheck, demand cash up front before taking the stage, & then get the hell out as soon as possible.
Yep, this has been Chuck's standard operating procedure for decades. I remember seeing him at Walt Disney World when I was a teenager in the early 80's, and all of the hallmarks were there -- nondescript pickup band, grossly out-of-tune guitar, disinterested Chuck, rushed set, the whole bit.

That's why the movie Hail! Hail! Rock 'N' Roll was such a blessing, since it showed what even a late-in-life Berry could do with a first-rate rehearsed backup band. In particular, the whipcrack rhythm backing of Joey Spampinato (bass) and Steve Jordan (drums) provided a snap not heard since his Chess Records glory days.
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Old 10-31-05, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Lokimok
I don't know if this is still the case, but I think the story used to be that Chuck didn't have a band. Local musicians would be provided; Chuck would drive himself to the gig, arrive just in time for the show with no rehearsal or soundcheck, demand cash up front before taking the stage, & then get the hell out as soon as possible.
That's *exactly* what happened. Apparently his son is playing rhythm guitar for him now (and he's not that great either). But as soon as Chuck finished the show closer, he walked off stage. His SON was the one who thanked the audience and introduced the rest of the band. What a dick.
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Old 10-31-05, 06:32 PM
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Yeah, I've seen Chuck a few times (even met him), and the key is the backup band. I've seen promoters provide groups that've never rehearsed with EACH OTHER, bands fronted by said promoters kid, etc...
And NONE ever get a chance to rehearse w/Chuck. The ONLY times I've heard Chuck sound bad is when the backup group do not know the material (which every self-respecting rock player should know BETTER than the back of his hand).
All of this, however IS Chuck's fault. He does NOT rehearse with anyone! Flatly refuses. Gets paid in cash (pre-show, of course), and if it goes bad, he ends it early and walks off. I haven't seen him since his son began playing rythym for him.
As far as personally, he doesn't like to be bothered with pictures and autographs and all that stuff(though I was lucky enough to get one of each). I imagine he's had his fill of idol worship; hell, he's had the same gig for 50 years, LOL.
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Old 10-31-05, 11:13 PM
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Saw Bo Diddly about 10 years ago and saw BB King twice, maybe 15 years ago and again some years later. Both were brilliant.
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Old 11-01-05, 12:41 AM
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Sounds like he's different on the road. If you want to see a great Chuck Berry show, catch him at his monthly Blueberry Hill gig. Most of the people in the band are friends of his whom he plays with often. When I saw him he played himself off the stage. (In fact, he continued playing for about five minutes from his dressing room) After the show, you could wait in line to shake his hand and get an autograph. Like I said, earlier, he doesn't phone it in for the home crowd.
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Old 11-01-05, 09:04 AM
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Sad sounding thread. It'd be neat to see him, but I'm not so sure after reading this! I've seen Jerry Lee Lewis twice, and he still rocked! Granted, the second time was barely an hour long.. I chalked it up to age.

The only other person who was around I'd have loved to see was Carl Perkins. If I remember correctly, he was still touring not long before his death.
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Old 11-01-05, 11:46 AM
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I recently saw Doc Watson (country/folk/bluegrass artist). He's like 80 and blind and he can still play.
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