On his 90th birthday, the rock legend announces a new album—his first in 38 years.
Rock ‘n’ roll legend Chuck Berry may have passed away — but he’s still putting out a new album.
“What a genius,” exclaimed Joe Edwards, the owner of the Blueberry Hill club in St. Louis where Berry — who died Saturday at the age of 90 — performed regularly.
Edwards said the tracks he’s heard off the upcoming album, titled “CHUCK,” and dedicated to his wife of 68 years, Themetta “Toddy” Berry, are “sensational.”
The artist’s death came five months after he announced plans to release a collection of mostly original material.
to reveal details of his new album, Chuck. Released on the Nashville-based label Dualtone, the album is the belated follow-up to Rock It, which came out in 1979.Details of the record were scanty, but a statement said that it would consist mainly of new material written and produced by Berry. It was recorded in St Louis, the musician’s hometown. Setting aside the not-so-small fact that Berry’s guitar style launched a million garage bands—with everyone from The Beatles to the Rolling Stones to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band included—it was Berry’s lyrics that raised the bar from “moon in June” love songs to songs full of wry word play, with a point of view and an acerbic wit to boot.
Chuck also features Berry’s children, Charles Berry Jr and Ingrid, on guitar and harmonica. Charles said: “What an honor to be part of this new music. The St Louis band, or as dad called us ‘the Blueberry Hill Band,’ fell right into the groove and followed his lead. These songs cover the spectrum from hard driving rockers to soulful thought provoking time capsules of a life’s work.” The album will be released next year.
I first encountered Berry in February of 1972, when he appeared on the afternoon talk show The Mike Douglas Show, alongside that week’s co-hosts John Lennon and Yoko Ono. I was already a devotee of Lennon and The Beatles as well as Berry’s contemporaries Elvis Presley and Little Richard, but beyond a few singles, I’d never seen the man himself in action and didn’t know much about him.
“If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry. Right!” Lennon began, introducing the man who’d created his job. “In the 1950s, a whole generation worshipped his music and when you see him perform today past and present all come together and the message is: ‘Hail, Hail, Rock and Roll.’ Right on!”