Chuck Berry Given Lifetime Achievement Award: "It's Beyond My Dreams to be Here this Long, Really."

Categories: Chuck Berry

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Photo by Theo R. Welling. See our full slideshow here.
UPDATE: The Arts Council just uploaded the video that was played last night in Chuck Berry's honor. See it on the second page of this post.

Last night the Arts and Education Council kicked off its 50th anniversary year with a ceremony to honor various contributors to arts and culture in St. Louis. The event was held in the beautiful Chase Park Plaza ballroom with a whole big ceiling full of modern sputnik chandeliers. The floor was filled with tables set for dinner and there were large screens flanking the stage with clear graphics and a high-quality feed of what was happening on the stage.

It was clearly a rich people event (with tons of gorgeous quilted Chanel purses in attendance), but it wasn't stuffy. These are rich people who are supporters of the arts, after all. The hosts of the evening manged to be warm and light-hearted while still stressing the importance of arts and art education. They presented a brief history of St. Louis and the arts, commemorating the opening of the Fox and the Black Rep, the founding of COCA and the recent renovation of the public library downtown, among others.

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Happy 86th Birthday, Chuck Berry!

Categories: Chuck Berry

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Erin Kinsella
A one Chuck Berry was born on this day in 1926. Last night he played a show at the Duck Room, wearing an ensemble remarkably similar to the one he's got on in that photo above, taken at Keiner Plaza a few years back. And somewhere in the middle, between 1926 and 2012, the man invented rock & roll. If we encounter anyone named Maybellene today, we will call her Ida May in his honor.

See also:
-Why you should go see Chuck Berry at the Duck Room as soon as humanely possible.
-Here is the painting Sinead O'Connor gave to the Prophet Chuck Berry on Monday
-Our extensive Chuck Berry archives


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Chuck Berry Unleashed First LP - After School Session - 55 Years Ago

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After School Session was Chuck Berry's first LP.
Chuck Berry entered the music scene at a time when singles were the predominant manner of disseminating music. That's probably why the St. Louis native is known more for individual songs than, say, a seminal album.

But while songs such "Maybellene" and "Johnny B. Goode" get the lion's share of attention from music aficionados, it should be noted in the sacred scrolls of rock and roll history that Berry has released over twenty studio albums. In fact, Berry's first album that only featured his music - After School Session - was released on this day in 1957.

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Happy Birthday Leonard Chess of Chess Records, Home of Chuck Berry and Ike Turner

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Leonard Chess
Musicians such as Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters are once-in-a-lifetime talents. And it's a safe bet that if Chess Records hadn't have made those artists' music accessible to the masses, another company would have pulled the trigger.

But fortunately for Leonard Chess, the label he ran with his brother Phillip gets a great deal of credit for bringing music legends into the forefront of popular culture. It's a seemingly improbable story. But in his relatively short lifetime, Chess - who was born on this day in 1917 - made a transition from an immigrant from Europe to purveyor of groundbreaking music.

Born Lejzor Czyz in Motal, Poland, Chess and his family settled down in Chicago in the 1920s. In the 1940s, Leonard and Phillip Chess were involved in the nightclub business in the Windy City. Along the way, the two purchased a record company called Aristocrat Records.

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Chuck Berry's Only Number One Hit - "My Ding-a-Ling" - Was Recorded 40 Years Ago Today

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RFT file photo.
Chuck Berry's only number one hit -- the novelty track "My Ding-a-Ling" -- was recorded 40 years ago today in Coventry, England.
What can be said about Chuck Berry's "My Ding-a-Ling" that hasn't already been said? It's a naughty crowd-pleaser that contains more double entendres than there are silver bells on a Christmas tree.

But the song holds some intriguing designations, besides that fact that it was utilized brilliantly during an episode of The Simpsons. The tune is a staple in Berry's live performances. Audiences adore singing the chorus. And to wit: "My Ding-a-Ling" happens to be Berry's only song to go to number one on the Billboard charts.

You read that right. Even though Berry created music so universally known that it was blasted into space as an example of human culture, "My Ding-a-Ling" was Berry's only number one hit on Billboard's Hot 100 charts.

The version of "My Ding-a-Ling" that actually went to number one happened to be recorded in Coventry, England, on this day in 1972. Berry was headlining the Lanchester Arts Festival, a performance that later was released as The London Chuck Berry Sessions.

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Why You Should Go See Chuck Berry As Soon As Humanly Possible

Categories: Chuck Berry

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Dennis Simmons
One year ago this week Chuck Berry collapsed on stage in Chicago. It was a call to action for many people who had been slacking on seeing his live show at Blueberry Hill.

As residents of this city, it's hard to get perspective on just how amazing it is that Chuck Berry, the dude who probably invented rock and roll, plays here monthly. And that tickets-- while they need to be bought in advance-- are mega cheap, relatively.

We don't want you to miss out on this opportunity so let's go over some of the reasons that you, St. Louisan, shouldn't wait any longer to go see the legend in action.


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Esquire's Luke Dittrich on How He Got the Chuck Berry Feature, in the January Issue

Categories: Chuck Berry

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Pages 100-101 of the January 2012 issue of Esquire
Just last week, Esquire published this thorough and fascinating Chuck Berry article. Berry is notoriously wary of the media, so author Luke Dittrich couldn't take a direct route to his subject. We spoke with Dittrich, a contributing editor at the magazine, last weekend about his super savvy journalistic methods and his thoughts on our hometown hero.

Jaime Lees: I was wondering if you'd ever lived here because there's your Chuck Berry article, and I also read your Joplin article and it was amazing. So I was wondering if you were from here or if you had family here.

Luke Dittrich: Well, thank you very much. Yeah, the reason I have those two Missouri stories is because I went down to St. Louis to profile Chuck Berry and I arrived the day after Joplin was hit by the tornado. So I spent about a week reporting on Chuck Berry and I had planned to stay working longer on the Chuck story but then eventually just decided that I was going to sort-of put Chuck on hold and go to Joplin. It compelled me to go there.

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Videotape Allegations Stung Berry's Legacy 22 Years Ago Today

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RFT File Photo
Chuck Berry's musical legacy is strong. But a legal saint he was not.
When it comes to his musical contributions, Chuck Berry's legacy is safe. St. Louis should be and is proud to claim Berry as one of its own for performing a slew of iconic tunes.

For the most part.

While Berry may have done much to lay the groundwork for modern rock and roll, that's not to say he's lived an error-free life. Far from it. He was, after all, incarcerated near the height of his fame for transporting a minor over state lines. He later served more time in jail in the late 1970s for income tax evasion.

And then there's whole scandal involving Berry clandestinely videotaping women in bathrooms. It's part of Berry's legacy that has 'icky' written all over it.

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The Loop Celebrates Chuck Berry Statue Dedication

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Albert Samaha
Where were you when the Chuck Berry statue was dedicated?
There were many people and it was hot and unless you got there early enough you probably couldn't even see the Chuck Berry statue through all the heads and cameras and miscellaneous visual impediments. But spirits were high and it was a celebration in the Loop -- couples danced, City Hall power brokers mingled, and cars that would have driven through Delmar detoured. And then, there, after a winding and reverent and melodious introduction by several notable speakers: there was Chuck Berry standing on the stage in a baby blue button-down and a white sailor's cap, speaking to all of us.

"No, Chuck," said somebody in the crowd, "thank you."

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Chuck Berry Spied in St. Louis Apple Store Last Night

Categories: Chuck Berry
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Michael Kilfoy, owner of the St. Louis design/marketing firm Studio X, was getting his laptop worked on around 5:30 p.m last night when a fellow customer at the Apple store caught his eye.

"I see this guy wearing a sailor's cap and I do a double-take," says Kilfoy. "Sure enough, it was Chuck Berry!"

Kilfoy says that soon all the 50 or so customers at the Galleria's Apple store were doing the same: staring at the rock 'n roll legend as he consulted with a service technician.

"I didn't want to interrupt him because I figured everyone would want to come up to him and shake his hand" says Kilfoy. "It looked to me that he was talking to to the Apple guy about an iPod or an iPhone."

Kilfoy adds that the 84-year-old Berry looked to be in fine shape following his recent episode of exhaustion earlier this month.

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