Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Chuck Berry and Bruce Springsteen at Cole Field House

Here's a blog post and contemporary review of Chuck Berry's performance with Bruce Springsteen at the Cole Field House in 1972 or 1973.  Of course my favorite version is the one Daryl Davis-- who snuck in as a kid and watched it all from backstage-- shared with GoHeadOn a couple of years ago.  Davis explained how everyone was in a panic because Chuck hadn't arrived:
He walked toward where I was standing a few feet from the band. As he passed me, I didn’t say a word, I just watched him. He laid the guitar case down on an amp crate and opened it up. The bandleader approached him with the rest of the band and said something to the effect of, “I’m Bruce Springsteen and my band is your backup band. We’re really looking forward to playing with you.” At the time, few people outside of Asbury Park, NJ knew who Bruce Springsteen was. Chuck shook hands and Bruce went on to tell him that they had been going over some of his repertoire earlier and asked what songs he might want to play that evening. Without pausing or missing a beat, Chuck said, “I think I’ll play some Chuck Berry songs,” and walked on stage and plugged in his guitar. It was a great concert. When he came off stage, he packed up his guitar but had forgotten the cord. The audience was screaming for an encore. Chuck walked back onto the stage and the crowd thinking he was going to play another song cheered even louder. He pulled the cord out of the amp waved to the crowd and duckwalked off the stage. He walked right by me again and again, I didn’t say a word. I was just in awe. He went out the door and got in the rental car and drove himself to wherever he was going.
You can read the whole thing HERE.



7 comments:

Bernard James Mc Dermott said...

now THATS a great rock and roll story! Chuck has been a huge influence since I started playing 43 years ago. I saw him at the Ritz in Manhattan in the 1980s. My sister called me on the phone one afternoon around 1PM and said "bernard, Chuck Berry's playing at the ritz tonight, you gotta go! I turned on the radio, to a local college station, WSIA, and they said "were giving away 2 tickets to see Chuck berry tonight at the Ritz." I called up and won the tickets...I went with a dear friend of mine, another guitar player named Cindy. We were like 2 little kids! We couldnt believe it was THE REAL CHUCK BERRY! As his last song He played "Johnny B. Goode"..the whole audience, including me rushed the stage and got up there and danced..It was the greatest rock and roll I had ever heard, naturally..Thanks for letting me share this with you, Peter. Keep Rockin' It will keep you young forever. God bless, Bernard James Mc Dermott

Peter said...

Bernard-- thanks for sharing YOUR Chuck Berry story.

Daryl's story has an even better ending. Daryl wound up being one of Chuck's close friends and frequent collaborators, backing Berry on countless Atlantic coast dates.

And, of course, Bruce Springsteen tells this story, too, in the film "Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll." It's one of my favorite parts of the movie, because as Bruce tells it, you see it play out yet again at a fair in Columbus, Ohio.

Peter

BillDonovan said...

I have followed Chuck Berry's music sinc around 1965. There was a concert hall called the Westchester Premier, And Disk Clark had an oldie show, 6 acts. 5 of them came on and did one or two songs each, 25 minute break, then Dick intro's Berry. There were two shows. I bought the same seat for both shows. He played Oh Carol, then right in the middle of the song, he stopped and called Dick out on to the stage, and said; "I got out of Federal prison last Monday, and Clark was the first one to call. Back to Carol....he played about 80 minutes, and Clark came out and begged him to quit for the 2nd show. second show, after the break Chuck comes out and starts to play "No Particular" like its a blues song. and stops and says "It don't Have to be fast." then fast...... he played for two hours.........................Bill Donovan

Peter said...

Bill-- Oh how I wish I was there! Elvis Costello played No Particular Place to Go as a slower blues at the Pen Award ceremony (you can find the whole ceremony on this blog, or go to Youtube for Costello's version. But, sad for him, that stint in prison made Chuck better. He must have practiced. The first show out, in Michigan, was crazily good, and anything I've been able to see from those early European tours has been amazing. Jealously yours, Peter

Peter said...

Bill-- or maybe this was a show in 1979, after the tax business? Sorry if I misunderstood-- but you got me excited. Still wish I was there!

Peter said...

Ha! How many times can I be wrong? It's early in the morning. I just got up. I jumped to the conclusion that Westchester was in England! Just googled the theater.

Peter said...

And here is a picture of Chuck performing at the Westchester Dinner Theater. I don't know if this is the right one, either, but it will end my silly string of responses to Bill's good story!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaimemartorano/4270897542/in/set-72157623200027606