Thursday, February 17, 2011

Va, Jean! Va! Va! An Interview with "Red Chuck" Jean Million

I don’t know when I first started hearing, or reading, about “Red Chuck” (actual name, Jean Million).  He’d show up on the message board from time to time. I made “friends” with him on myspace but never heard from him. Then more and more I’d see him perking up on facebook, posting youtube videos or philosophical French moans of anguish. He’s got a cat named Chuck, and was looking, for a time, for a dog named Bo. Don’t know if that happened. I know that he’s got a serious fixation on the bass playing of Jimmy Marsala.

I know he can do splits well enough to get a serious health warning from CBII.  And that he covets his neighbor's jacket and guitar!  (Understandable.)

And I know that once he got to play with Jimmy and CBII. You can read about it here, and see a clip, too.

What fascinates me is that this fellow in France saw Chuck Berry for the first time live 33 years after I did—but the same thing happened to both of us. And to so many of YOU.  That's the power of our hero.

Of course, Jean's gone beyond what many or most of us have done.  He not only got on stage with the band, he saw a 79 year old Chuck Berry playing on his back!!  And he got his arm signed!

Anyway, enjoy.

I’ve seen video of you playing at the sound check with Chuck Berry’s band. Tell us how that came about, and how it felt.

Gee... there's no words to describe how it feels actually. You know, as a die-hard Chuck Berry fan, I know his band, and... Butch and Jimmy are heroes to me. Actually, we went to Amiens, where the show was, along with Peter from Sweden, and Jan from Germany. We were allowed to enter backstage, but it was quite early in the day-- and by the way, we entered before Chuck's band. The band then came on stage for the sound checks... and I hear this big and loud voice ... "Hey, Red, come on stage, come on!" .It was Butch's voice.

Gee... i remember approaching the stage, my legs were quiverin' and quackin'...

rest is memories...

(Except for video!  Here's a short version.)

How and when did you become such a big Chuck Berry fan? Did it start with the records, or a live performance, or a film? Tell us about it.

Mmmh... really hard to say... My father was born back in 1949. And like people of his age he was more into The Beatles and The Rolling Stones stuff than Rock'n'Roll or Blues. I remember he had Chuck Berry's Golden Hits (French edition from 1967) on Mercury... That music really pleased me... but it's not really then I became a fan. I was listening to Chuck Berry like any other act actually... until I saw him on June, 30th 2004, in Vienne, France. I was in the first row, ... and I just can't explain what happened... I'm just addicted since then!

How many times have you seen him perform? Can you describe some of your favorite live moments?

I'll work it like this - give the dates I've been too, and write some comments after...

30/06/2004 - Vienne, France - Jazz à Vienne - the date that changed my life!

12/01/2005 - Villeurbanne, France - Transbordeur - the most powerful show I've been too... he was just crazy on this night - even played on his back ... Jim had his Precision on this tour... Gee, this bass just sounded perfect...

18/03/2005 - Beauvais, France - Blues Autour du Zinc - not so much things to say about that one.

10/11/2005 - Besançon, France - Micropolis - for that one too.

21/11/2007 - Lyon, France - Salle 3000 - Chuck was in my city - it's always something else. And because of Patrick Rocher, I met the band and Chuck at the hôtel, and since then, my After School Session cd is signed!

16/03/2008 - Paris, France - Olympia - special show - this one moved me - can't explain why.

17/03/2008 - Amsterdam, Holland - Heineken Music Hall - One of the best - gee, he had a strong playing - and it was obvious that Butch, Jim, Jean-Mi and Daniel were more and more good together - they really sounded like a band! and can't forget the photo session w/ Jimmy and Butch after... and I had a girl besides me... wanna find her again...

17/07/2008 - Sète, France - Théâtre de la Mer - incredible! it was in the summer, i get up about 5 am, and took the train along with my cat named Chuck (he was 2 months back then) - direction Sète... I let him at the hôtel, and attended the show (open-air show), I was able to hear the band rehearsing - they then left... Charles and Jimmy came to me ... "do you want to come with us backstage tonight?" - incredible... and Chuck was in a quite good shape! lovable..

14/11/2008 - Paris, France - Le Zénith - oh what a night !

15/11/2008 - Amiens, France - Le Zénith - enough said - i just jammed w/ the boys! man my life's complete ...

22/11/2008 - Mannheim, Germany - SAP Arena - Strong show... and what a moment: after the show I show my Chuck Berry tattoo to our man - he signed my arm - since then his autograph is under my skin, tattooed... tears were rollin' in both his eyes and mine...

Editor’s Note: Jean, they’re rollin’ down Doug’s now, too, I can almost assure you. There were a few more questions, but who’d ask them after that!



Anonymous said...

I was so happy to get a film of that soundcheck in Amiens. I also remember how scared you was to go inside the arena in Amiens before the band arrived :) I hope you can find that girl from Heineken Music Hall :) Hope to see you on next tour. We really had fun.

Thanks Jean & Peter


Anonymous said...

Peter, You know me too well... Great to see and hear from Red Chuck - Thanks for bringing his story to us Peter!! Jean your splits look great!! I have seen several clips of you playing CB's Rock & Roll and you do a wonderful job!! Let It Rock my friend!! It sounds like you became "addicted" the same way I did. I always loved CB's music and when I could catch glimpes of him on TV, but it all changed when I saw him perform "Live". I was hooked!! That is where Chuck's true magic really is......
CB Forum ID - Busseybootlegger

66badsign said...

Thank´s for another great article. I know the feeling of jamming with Chuck´s band and still have the thrill of going to Blueberry Hill :)

Thank´s // Thomas The Swede

Anonymous said...

I had lost this...Great portrait of our Red Chuck! Thanks Peter!