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Chuck Berry - Hail! Hail! Rock N' Roll (Four-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition)

4.7 out of 5 stars 192 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The unforgettable life and music of pioneering legend Chuck Berry are celebrated in this landmark feature film, capturing a once-in-a-lifetime gathering of rock and roll's finest! In 1986, Keith Richards invited a roster of musicians to honor Berry for an evening of music to commemorate his 60th birthday, including performances by Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, Linda Rondstadt, Etta James and Julian Lennon, along with footage of an unforgettable duet by Chuck and John Lennon! Also featuring interviews with many of the original creators of rock and roll: Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Roy Orbison, Bo Diddley, The Everly Bros, and Willy Dixon. This dynamite crowd pleaser from director Taylor Hackford (Ray) will keep your toes tapping and your soul rocking all night long! ROCKING EXTRAS! 54 minutes of never-before-seen Chuck Berry rehearsals in DTS and 5.1 audio, featuring Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Johnnie Johnson, Chuck Lavell and Etta James! "Witness to History," featuring Little Richard, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry together for the first time; "The Burnt Scrapbook," with Chuck Berry and Robbie Robertson revealing the remains of Chuck's collection of musical memories; "Chuckisms," a collection of classic Chuck Berry remarks; "Witness to History 2," an amazing 3-and-a-half hour look at the birth of rock music with Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley, the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison and more!


Two distinct portraits of Chuck Berry emerge in this lavish four-disc set built around Hail! Hail! Rock n' Roll, director Taylor Hackford's 1986 documentary/concert film. On one side there's the Berry who wrote a catalogue's worth of genre-defining songs ("Maybellene," "Johnny B. Goode," "Roll Over Beethoven," and so many others), all of them filled with wit, delightful stories, and poetry. He's also the guitarist who virtually patented many of rock's seminal licks, and the showman who attracted some top musicians to celebrate his 60th birthday with a concert in St. Louis, his hometown. On the other hand, there's the Berry who, in the course of the film as well as the accompanying bonus material, emerges as a prickly cheapskate who drove the filmmakers and musicians nuts with his absurd demands and unpredictable behavior. Together they make a fascinating look at the guy who justifiably calls himself "the father of rock 'n' roll."

Hackford's original film, now issued with a crisp, anamorphic transfer and digital sound, occupies Disc One. A parade of classics are heard during the climactic concert, performed by Berry and a superb band (led by Keith Richards and featuring guitarist Robert Cray and Johnny Johnson, Berry's original pianist, among others), with guest shots by Eric Clapton (smoking on the slow blues "Wee Wee Hours"), Etta James, Linda Ronstadt, and Julian Lennon (whose dad was an unabashed Berry fan). There are revealing offstage glimpses, too, like Berry confessing that he only took up music full-time because there was more money in it than in housepainting, or a weary, wasted Richards admitting that "I was mad to take the gig" but gamely standing up to his idol at every turn (watch for a memorable moment during the very first song of the concert, when Chuck attempts to change key in mid-tune and Keith sternly shakes him off).

The three discs of bonus features add a lot more to the portrait. Much of it is terrific: A nostalgic Berry poring over his scrapbook with Robbie Robertson of the Band; some lengthy rehearsal jams with Clapton, Richards, and James; hours (literally) of convivial conversation with Little Richard, Bo Diddley, and other rock pioneers. But if you're the type who can't turn away from car wrecks, don't miss "The Reluctant Movie Star," an hour-long "making of" documentary, for it's here that Hackford and the others who worked on the film tell their war stories. The Chuck Berry they know demanded to be paid every day, in cash, or he'd refuse to be filmed. He showed up for a dinner meeting at L.A.'s posh Le Dome with a bag of McDonald's takeout. And two days before the St. Louis concert, he announced that he was leaving town for a gig in Ohio, where he proceeded to blow out his voice--so his vocals all had to be overdubbed after the fact (an extra payday, natch). Hail! Hail! Rock n' Roll was already an entertaining two hours. But the various extra material, none of it seen before and all of it introduced by Hackford, makes this "ultimate collector's addition" a must-have. --Sam Graham

Special Features

  • New introduction by director Taylor Hackford
  • 54 minutes of rehearsal footage
  • The Reluctant Movie Star making-of documentary
  • Trailer
  • Witnesses to History documentary Parts 1 & 2
  • "Chuckisms" - a collection of classic Chuck Berry remarks
  • "The Burnt Scrapbook" - Chuck Berry reminisces over his musical memories with The Band’s Robbie Robertson

Product Details

  • Actors: Chuck Berry, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Ingrid Berry, Robert Cray
  • Directors: Taylor Hackford
  • Producers: Chuck Berry, Albert Spevak, George T. Nierenberg, Jane Rose, Stephanie Bennett
  • Format: Box set, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated:
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 27, 2006
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (192 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000F0UTTW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,124 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Chuck Berry - Hail! Hail! Rock N' Roll (Four-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Perry Celestino on June 3, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This documentary-concert-behind-the-scenes look at Rock and Roll's original lyrical master is back. I have been waiting for its release to DVD for ten years and here it is with a four disc set! How good is that! I had the original movie when it was released in 1987 on VHS and have been playing it ever since.

There are many, many highlights and you will see them all over and over when you get this show. Some of them are:

1) Chuck talking about his meeting with Leonard Chess and his reluctance to play in front of him.

2) How Chuck shows up at a gig alone and always used local bands to back him up. Bruce Springsteen tells the delightful story of his band doing backup when he opened for Chuck and Jerry Lee Lewis early in his career. Chuck comes to the show late out of nowhere ignores the band goes out onstage and starts playing. The band was in a panic, "What song is it?" "What key?", "What arrangement?"...Chuck just comes over and says "Play for that money boys" and Bruce says he didn't know we were doing it for free!! The whole story about going to the bass player for the key was priceless! I know its true-I've seen him do it! 1-2-3 go--that's Chuck Berry!

3) How Chuck got paid in cash (had lots of IRS problems). Here in Australia I saw Chuck in 1975 and he was caught at Sydney Airport with $50000 AUD in an attache case. We still have currency restrictions due to this famous incident!!

4) His reluctance to talk publically about his time in jail (it ruined his career-he was going to be much bigger but that stopped him until the British rediscovered him in 1964!!).

5) His playing steel guitar at the end- a nice country touch, and rare, by himself in his Clubhouse at Berry Park.
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Format: DVD
This is a wonderful restoration of the great 1987 film that celebrated Chuck Berry's 60th birthday, as well as his past and his massive, yet-underappreciated influence on rock and pop music. There is still some grain to be seen, but it's the age of the film. The colors, like on George Harrison's "Concert for Bangladesh" DVD reissue, are amazing. They jump out at you, and the sound is great.

And for those of you who don't know Berry's immense gift for words, check out the extra on disc 3 (or 4?) where he and former Band guitarist Robbie Robertson thumb through Berry's scapbook. The scene where Robertson is softly strumming an acoustic guitar while Berry miraculously recites his own poetry - and this is POETRY that none of us have heard, and they're mini-stories that are even better than his great song lyrics from the 1950s and 1960s - is mezmerizing beyond belief. If there was an award for Best Actor for A Musician in a DVD Deleted Scene Categroy at the Academy Awards, Berry would win without a doubt. It's simply arresting, so much as the usually talkative Robertson is speechless while the usually tough, evasive Berry pours out his soul in front of the camera.

Five stars for a terrific concert film/birthday celebration packed to the gills with hours of extras! Hail! Hail! Chuck Berry!

Oh, and the scene where Berry tries to get Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, the film and concert's band director, to switch keys from C down to B-flat in the beginning of a song (Richards boldly frowns and tells his hero, "No!") near the beginning of the concert finale is awesome. I guess it's payback since Berry was the only man who ever punched Keith Richards and got away with it.

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Format: VHS Tape
This is a lovely account of Chuck Berry as told by himself and many other famous musicians (Keith Richards, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen etc. etc.) as they prepare for a concert with a Keith Richards-organized band. What I think is unusual about it and what makes it one of the best "rock films" is that it clearly also presents Chuck as the often-difficult character he clearly is instead of being a hagiography. In fact, knowing this and seeing his humanity, makes the music all the more powerful. Keith Richards (as so often) is priceless, his musical contribution is superb. Chuck "correcting" Keith on his intro to "O Carol" is wonderful. Can you hear the difference between his and Chuck's rendition? The final concert is superb with all the guest stars appearing and keeping a lowish profile. The stars are Berry and, even though he tries very hard not to overshadow the man, Richards who shows us (once again) that there is no one who plays Chuck Berry better than Keith.
I recommend it to any one who likes rock music. Berry is a giant and here he is with other giants.
Of course now it needs to be on DVD....
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Format: VHS Tape
Sure you could buy the soundtrack, but in the movie there's more, besides the amazing visual element. A lot of the fun of the movie is in the rehearsal and interview parts. A great moment comes in a rehearsal where the band is playing the standard "I'm through with Love," which doesn't appear on the soundtrack. Keith Richards offers the most soulful guitar perhaps of his career on the track, after which Berry looks at him and says "you sure play some pretty chords for a rock and roller." Keith appears genuinely humbled by the praise from Berry, whom he reveres. Berry continues with the ultimate compliment: "You shoulda been a jazz musician Jack." Richards, still sheepish but more composed, replies with a sharp smile: "There's no money in it Chuck, there's no money in it." In addition to the beautiful chords, this scene vividly demonstrates the artists' mutual respect and common vernacular, and signifies in a small way the true passing of a musical tradition across years, races, and continents.
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