Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Man Worked (Still Does)

When I was lucky enough to meet Chuck Berry for a moment or two he mentioned a job he had as a child in a location directly below The Pageant Theater.  I also read somewhere that before the three night, two city tour that led to his collapse from exhaustion last January he spent a morning pushing a wheelbarrow at Berry Park.  The man worked, and still does.  I've often felt that his 60 year record of professional performances, from 1952 until present, (I leave out the semi-pro stuff he did earlier,) is one of his most outstanding legacies.  He went out night after night, to clubs, stadiums, bars, barns, fairs, fraternities, colleges, casinos, theaters, gyms, television studios, movie studios, festivals—wherever they booked him.  He demanded cash, an amplifier, and a band, and he supplied the rest—in big towns, small towns, in auditoriums all over the world.  One day, thinking about that, it occurred to me that a great tribute might be a list of those performances, etched in stone—a wall where people could come and find the show they saw, and where non-believers could perhaps be moved by the sheer magnitude of the endeavor—thousands of one nighters, spanning more than half a century, in towns and cities across the United States, the Americas, Europe, Asia and beyond.  As a lifetime’s work, even absent the song writing and recording, the carpentry, the family, the property management, it is phenomenal.  The man worked, and still does. 

(And I think he plays tomorrow night at Blueberry Hill!)

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