Chuck Berry: The Autobiography Hardcover – January 13, 1989
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- Item Weight : 1.85 pounds
- Hardcover : 346 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0517566664
- ISBN-13 : 978-0517566664
- Publisher : Harmony Books; 1st edition (January 13, 1989)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #326,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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The first of those obsessions seems to have been girls. He cheated on his wife soon after they were married, and continued to have a voracious appetite for females throughout his life, even enjoying a mother-daughter pair at one point. He takes pleasure in describing his encounters, and includes photographs of the youngest, prettiest ones. He shows not a hint of concern about the wife to whom he remained married through this episodic quest for cute babes. I wonder how she felt when turning the pages of this book.
His second obsession was money, which may be understandable in view the number of times he was tricked and cheated in the business, although his memory for financial detail suggests he was always "penny wise."
The third obsession, of course, was music. I'm listing it third because he devotes fewer pages to it than the other two. Still, what he does include is useful: short notes on the inspirations for his best-known songs.
Overall he doesn't come across as a particularly nice guy, but the honesty is refreshing, and this is a valuable book for anyone who grew up listening to his music (as I did).
The book is also important as a document describing the extreme racial prejudice that he had to deal with, in an era where there were "white hotels" and "colored hotels," and he feared being beaten or even killed by cops who suspected him of having sex with a white girl. He shows no self-pity or anger about the prejudice in those times; he just tells it the way it was.
Since it's an autobiography, Berry chooses himself what scenes of his life are important enough to be present to the world. And that is what is intriguing in itself, especially given Chuck Berry's evasive, difficult public persona. For the first and only time Berry describes at length his incarceration days of the three different terms he served, his childhood, his rise to stardom and his beloved country club that he built on a bare land near St. Louis. Berry also shares with us a precious information on creation of his biggest hits, from Maybelline, Johnny B. Goode to Promised Land (he literally dedicated one of the chapters for that). And then the book is full of sexual images and innuendos regarding his relationship with and attitude towards women (he partly excused himself for going there by the fact that he was writing the book while in prison). Well, that's rock'n'roll after all! The shadow of racial issues is never too far away, though, as they played the major part in Berry's personal and professional life.
Since the writer is selective in his choices, some of the chapters of his artistic life are barely touched, some are ignored completely. There is practically no information about his mid-to late 60s recordings, his decision to stop recording music after his incarceration in 1979. Very little information about his relations with fellow artists.
After reading the book one realizes: this guy, who started playing back when NO rock music exited, who fought for his own artistic freedom within a white-dominated, hostile culture, and who is the author of the most enticing rock'n'roll songs, is still with us! Still playing at the Blueberry Hill and traveling all over the globe with his Gibson. Hail, hail, rock'n'roll!