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Chuck Berry: The Biography Paperback – April 1, 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"A fast-paced...provocative look at Berry's creativity, longevity, and influence on rock 'n' roll."

From the Publisher

It’s no exaggeration to say that, with songs like “Rock Œn’ Roll Music,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” and “Johnny B. Goode,” Chuck Berry invented rock Œn’ roll. Yet Berry has been respected rather than loved—in fact, after producing the birthday–tribute film “Hail, Hail, Rock and Roll” for him, Keith Richards remarked “I wouldn’t warm to Chuck Berry if I was cremated next to him.” Notorious for using pick–up musicians to avoid the expense of a touring band, he insists on cash payment before he’ ll play and congratulates himself on his accumulation of wealth. His career has been overshadowed, and often stalled, by tax evasion, liaisons with an underage prostitute, and jail sentences. Now, John Collis interviews those who have worked with Berry and uncovers the truth about his life back in St. Louis. The result is a clear–eyed portrait of a musical genius who, even in his seventies, is still up on stage singing “Sweet Little Sixteen.” --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press (April 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1854109650
  • ISBN-13: 978-1854109651
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,314,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Written by a UK fan from when he first saw Chuck Berry on tour in Bristol in the 1960s, Collis avoids many of the problems in such lifetime fan tomes by covering the many dislikable personal and business aspects of Berry's character alongside a career history of the man's many momentous recording achievements.

The start of the book after a short bio over view is background on why St Louis is an under rated music centre versus Chicago and Memphis in US history, identifying the key influences on Berry's music alongside Chuck's key early life history. The main meat of the book is its central chapters with a lengthy coverage of Berry's recording history and live performances across the critical 50s and 60s. Collis's detailed comments on the mixed bag approach of Berry to recording and highlighting those gems which have all stood the test of time thankfully avoids it all becoming a tedious listing of sessions data. The later chapters given Berry's lack of real recording activity and consistently lack lustre live shows since the early 1970s (a feature I have sadly personally experienced several times) make a valiant effort covering such key events as his trial for tax evasion and the 60th birthday bash organised by Keith Richards.

The sad conclusion is that early setbacks and bad experiences (both racist and financial), especially his imprisonment in the early 1960s on sex charges, resulted in Berry having an ongoing lack of trust of anyone and a penny pinching and control freak approach to his career, whatever the consequences. His own lack of personal vision meant he never would look to a powerful manager or record producer who could have helped him apply a greater business acumen and discipline around recording and live shows.
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Format: Hardcover
chuck writes well here in this book that goes till the late 80's. he may need tow riter another that takes him further on down the road. the photos are week in the book and could have been edited a bit better but overall this is a pleasant read.
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