Almost everything that Chuck Berry released got played at the original Twisted Wheel in Manchester. In 1963/4 there was a blues boom in the UK and leading it was Chuck Berry. Rock & roll and blues songwriter, singer and guitarists and great performer. He was born Charles Edward Anderson Berry to a large family in St. Louis on October 18, 1926.
1954, Chuck led pianist Johnny Johnson’s small combo at the Cosmopolitan Club St Louis becoming a major attraction with black audiences, (Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm their only competitor).
1955 He went to Chicago and briefly met Muddy Waters, who told him to see Chess Records. There after listening to his demo tape Leonard Chess liked Chucks hillbilly tune named “Ida Red” a recording session was arranged and on May 21 1955 history was put on tape, the title was changed to “Maybellene” upon release it only reached the mid-20s on the USA Billboard pop chart, but its influence reverberated for many years after.
Chuck Berry – The Hit Maker
Chuck had the great idea of appealing to a young white audience and his songs were able to capture the interest of that section of the market with the lyrics as well as the crossover R&B Rockabily sound.
The hits flowed over the next few years: “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Thirty Days,” “Too Much Monkey Business,” “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” “You Can’t Catch Me,” “School Days” “Carol” “Back in the U.S.A.” “Little Queenie, “Memphis, Tennessee,” “Johnny B. Goode” “Rock and Roll Music.”Then problems truck. Charged with transporting a minor over state lines (the Mann Act) Jailed for sex with a minor; Sweet Little Sixteen..he was sentenced to federal prison for two years.
While in prison British teenagers discovered his music and UK re-releases were making his old songs hits over again. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, copied, covered, and played live Chucks repertoire – especially the Stones.
1964 He bounced back with “Nadine” “No Particular Place to Go” “You Never Can Tell” and toured the UK. I saw him do the famous duck walk at the Odeon on Oxford Street in Manchester, May 22nd 1964 – The Animals were top of the bill.
For a short time he recorded with Mercury Records, returning to Chess in 1972 and hit with a live recording; “My Ding a Ling” which became his first official gold record. This record caused a great deal of controversy at the time – Mrs Mary Whitehouse in particular to exception to the lyrics which she obviously interpreted to mean something she took delight in publicising.
1979 back to prison, this time for income tax evasion.
1987, he published his first book; Chuck Berry: The Autobiography.
Famous quote about Chuck is John Lennon said : “If you were going to give rock & roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’.”
But it’s a pity about his drugs bust at his restaurant when the cops found cocaine and stacks of videos of the women’s toilets! Chuck, like James Brown kept on heading for trouble with the law.
Chuck Berry CHESS RECORDS Releases
MAYBELLENE USA no1 1955
ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN
BROWN EYED HANDSOME MAN
SCHOOL DAYS (1957)
Jailed (Sex with a minor)
GO GO GO
REELIN AND A ROCKIN
NO PARTICULAR PLACE TO GO
YOU NEVER CAN TELL