Chuck Berry New Year's Show Ends Early Due to "Exhaustion"; Legend "Home Resting Comfortably"
Chuck Berry's New Year's Day concert in Chicago ended prematurely, after he slumped over a keyboard and had to be helped from the stage.
Erin Kinsella Chuck Berry at Kiener Plaza, July 29, 2010
"Chuck had played a bit of very spotty piano earlier in the set during 'Let It Rock,' so when he headed for the bench we assumed he was going to play some more," says Heather West, a veteran music publicist who was at the Congress Theater show. "I don't know how long he paused over the keyboard, less than a minute, but his shoulders slumped, his head went down and from my perspective, he looked like he had lost consciousness. ...His people very quickly helped him off the stage, to everyone's shock."
"People definitely didn't think it was part of the show," she added. "This was a huge audience, probably 2000 or more, and everyone was super jacked up, very excited. It was multi-generational in nature as well, lots of families. When he was performing poorly, some of the audience began to leave, but the majority were still there. People were definitely shocked and upset."
According to the Chicago Tribune, paramedics were called to the venue and examined Berry, but he did not go to the hospital after the show. (The 84-year-old rock & roll pioneer reportedly left the scene in a limo.) On Sunday, Berry's long-time booking agent, Dick Alen, told West, "Chuck was unfortunately suffering from exhaustion at his concert last night, but is home resting comfortably."
Berry, who last played in St. Louis at Blueberry Hill's Duck Room on December 15, had a busy weekend. He played two New Year's Eve shows at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York City, before heading to Chicago for the Congress Theater gig.
West says that there were warning signs that something wasn't quite right on Saturday night.