It is the 90th birthday of Charles Edward Anderson Berry, on October 18, which might not mean much to most people, but remove the three Christian names, then replace them with Chuck Berry, and it is instantly recognised by lovers of rock ’n’ roll.
John Lennon in fact said: “If you were going to call rock ’n’ roll something else, it may well have been Chuck Berry.’’
It is over 60 years ago that he first burst onto the scene, with his hit Maybellene, followed by a procession of rock ’n’ roll classics, many recognisable from their opening guitar riffs, Johnny B. Goode being a prime example.
His songs have been recorded by scores of other people, such as The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and Sheffield’s own Dave Grundy, who chose the stage name Dave Berry, then had his own chart entry with Chuck Berry’s Memphis Tennessee.
Apart from writing and recording songs, Chuck Berry has been a regular on the live performance circuit, with the City Hall, Gaumont Cinema, and the Fiesta nightclub, being among the venues he has appeared at locally.
The Hillbilly Cats will be paying tribute to Chuck Berry, during their gig at the Railway Hotel, Wadsley Bridge, on Friday, October 7, and I will be playing more of his music between sets, along with requests from the audience.
If any readers have memories of seeing Chuck Berry in Sheffield, I am sure the Star letters page would like to hear about them.