All of us in the Steppenwolf organization were saddened by the news of the passing of Chuck Berry. His music touched everyone. Along with sadness come some fond memories:
From John Kay: Some are fine singers or great song writers, pioneering guitarists or outstanding showmen, but very, very few are all four. Chuck Berry excelled at ALL these talents, he was without question, the total package. He also, as the first Poet of Rock 'n Roll, painted pictures with his lyrics that led some of us to "The Promised Land". Farewell Chuck Berry, "Thank You" for all the joy your music gave us.
From Michael Wilk: Ron Hurst, bassist Paul Gauthier (members of our regionally successful band "Ort") any myself were chosen as Chuck Berry's band when he played an event in Holyoke, MA. I recall seeing Chuck in his rental car waiting to take the stage. The 3 of us were already on stage at our instruments when he emerged from the car, walked on stage, plugged in and began playing. We had no idea what he was going to play, or which key he intended to play in. It didn't matter; all the songs had the same 3 chords, just in different keys. Eventually he came over to me and pointed to the Hammond B3 indicating it was my turn to take a solo....it met with his approval, and I took two. We were playing in A-flat...not exactly the easiest key to solo in, but as he walked away, he pointed to me and looked toward the crowd nodding his approval. Quite an experience indeed!
From Ron Hurst: That particular show that Mike mentioned above was my first show with Chuck as well. It was in August 73 @ Alumni field behind Holyoke High School. We were hired by our former manager and good friend Rick Goldenberg who had a booking agency at the time with his partner Ron Verzone Productions. The one defining memory that I'll write about, was when he came up on stage before we started the first song, ran behind my drum set, leaned over in my ear and said "quick”, what do you want to start with? Being at a total loss for words he laughed and said OK, let's do something by Chuck Berry and ran out to the front and open the show with "Roll over Beethoven". I went on to work with Chuck on 3-4 more occasions but I'll always remember that first moment.
From Danny Johnson: I feel that Chuck Berry invented the Rock & Roll guitar.
From Charlie Wolf: I was stationed at Aviano Air Base, Italy. I played drums and managed a band of my fellow GI’s called “Ruff Kutt”. We heard that Chuck Berry was touring military bases. He traveled with a guitar in one hand and a suitcase in the other and whatever venue he performed at would provide the band. We played at an Army base, Camp Darby a couple times a month. They hired us to back up Chuck Berry. What a thrill for a group of GI’s. We started rehearsing his songs then about 2-3 weeks before the concert, for some reason, the rest of the tour was cancelled. Obviously disappointing, but we kept Johnny B. Goode and a couple other of his songs in our set list. Good memories.
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