Little known B.C. connections for rock ‘n’ roll legend Chuck Berry
You may not have known it but the legendary Chuck Berry was once Live in Ladner, B.C.
In June 1980, the father of rock ‘n’ roll took centre stage at a free outdoor concert to celebrate the grand opening of a new Chevy dealership.
The 28 minutes of footage shows Berry belting out hits like Roll Over Beethoven, Sweet Little Sixteen, Nadine, and Memphis, Tennessee to an excited crowd of hundreds in the car dealership’s parking lot.
The guitar great topped the charts in the 1950s, revolutionizing rock ‘n’ roll at a time when the U.S. was in a deep racial divide.
“It was so interesting. This was a black man in segregationist territory back in the ’50s, who was chronicling the lives of white youth,” said B.C. blues musician and actor Jim Byrnes.
Byrnes and Berry share the same hometown of St. Louis, Mo. Byrnes first met Berry when he was 10 years old and growing up in the northern part of the city.
“He was this famous celebrity and he would drive by in his Cadillac and us kids would go ‘Oh, Oh, Oh!!’ And you know some days he regaled us and some days he was … well, he could be quite a thorny character if you know what I’m saying,” Byrnes recalled.
One of the first inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Berry’s career spanned seven decades before he passed away at his Missouri home.
“He had a good at bat. He was 90 years old, I mean he was not cut off in the prime of his life like some people have been,” Byrnes said.
“There’s a saying in Ireland — have a good look cause you’ll never see the like again.”