Monday, March 13. 2023
Little Queenie overdubs
On this site we maintain a database containing all Chuck Berry recordings ever published on CD or Vinyl. We welcome every user comment enhancing the correctness of the data listed, such as reader Martyâs recent email regarding the recording of Little Queenie:
We believe thereâs a ride cymbal over dub on the original version, what do you think? Because you can hear drum fills and the ride cymbal continues.
As even Odie Payne couldnât play a two-handed drum fill and a cymbal in parallel, this is a very valid comment. Martyâs email triggered some in-depth investigations and a huge number of emails floating between the contributors to this site.
Todayâs technical possibilities allow you to extract, modify and single out parts of a historical recording. This allowed our technical expert Arne Wolfswinkel to both verify Martyâs findings and to discover some additional astonishing facts.
You should know that besides the original 1958 record release we have another, slightly different take of Berryâs classic tune. This âpreviously unreleased versionâ (later called âTake 8â) of Little Queenie came into light in 1986, when Steve Hoffman presented to us lost recordings from the vaults of Chess Records. (âRockânâRoll Raritiesâ, CHESS CH2-92521)
Overdubbing was a common practice with Chuck Berryâs recordings at Jack Wienerâs Sheldon Recording Studios. That way the producers could add more Chuck Berry guitar to a recording or more Chuck Berry voice. Even a classic such as Johnny B. Goode was created in such a two-step process. (See the blog article âThe Johnny B. Goode Sessionâ)
Overdubbing means that a first recording was made using the full band. During recording, Berry played some of the guitar elements and sung the main vocal. Later the engineer and Berry worked out the finer details such as additional guitar solos or a second voice without the need of the band. The engineer played back a tape containing the original base track, Berry sang or played, and the result was recorded to a second tape. This procedure was necessary, because in the 1950s Chess could not record multiple instruments separately and mix them later.
One example for a guitar and vocal overdub is take 9A of Merry Christmas Baby from the Little Queenie session. This is the variant released on Chess single 1714.
With Little Queenie this overdubbing happened a bit differently. As Marty found, some parts of the drums were recorded for the base track while other parts were recorded during the overdub. And comparing the two slightly different takes of Little Queenie which survived, it becomes obvious that in this session the overdubbing involved not just Berry or Odie Payne, but also Lafayette Leake.
Both takes of Little Queenie are based on the same base track which consists of Berry playing rhythm guitar, Willie Dixon playing double bass and Odie Payne playing the drum rhythm. This base track is 100% identical on both takes.
Different, and thus overdubbed onto this base track, is Berryâs singing, some additional guitar playing, Odie Payneâs cymbal or hi-hat, and Lafayette Leakeâs piano. As due to sound degeneration overdubbing was reasonable only onto the first-generation tape, we have to imagine that Berry, Payne, and Leake on this 19th November 1958 were listening to the base track and together added their overdubs.
The correct recording details for both takes of Little Queenie will therefore be:
Chuck Berry guitar, vocal (overdub), 2nd guitar (overdub)
We will alter our database accordingly. We will keep the âTake 8â distinction for the alternative even though it is completely unclear where it comes from. The count-in preceding the song (âAre you ready, Chuck?â) on the 1986 album is probably not from the original tape as the guitar intro overlaps the engineerâs announcement which would usually result in an immediate stop to the recording. It is known that Steve Hoffman shuffled such segments around and even created completely new songs from segments of different takes. (For details, read the blog posts âSweet Little Eight Variants of Sweet Little Sixteenâ and âChuck Berry in Stereoâ)
Run Rudolph Run from the same session uses the same melody and the same rhythm as Little Queenie. And here as well we hear both a guitar overdub and additional cymbal or hi-hat playing.
We would like to thank reader Marty for finding the cymbal overdub and especially for telling us.
Posted by Dietmar Rudolph in Chuck Berry Recordings at 10:20 | Add Comment | Contact Webmaster
Tuesday, January 31. 2023
Lonely School Days - the variants explained
Several Chuck Berry songs have been recorded multiple times - not only live, but also in the studio.
Sometimes a second recording was made for commercial reasons, e.g. when a new record company tried to generate additional income from old songs. A typical example is Roll Over Beethoven, initially recorded in 1956 in Chicago for Chess Records, re-recorded 1966 in Clayton for Mercury Records.
Sometimes a second recording was made for artistic reasons when Berry tried to make a song sound better or at least different. See for instance Havana Moon, initially recorded in 1956, then in 1979, and finally in the late 1990s.
In addition, songs evolve over time during the recording process itself until a final version pleases both artist and company. See for instance the song recorded as 21 (Twenty-One) of which some studio tapes survived. There are fairly different variants until a final result was reached and published under the title Vacation Time.
Lonely School Days is another song which evolved over time. One surviving variant has been recorded in late 1964 and released on the back of Chess single 1926, Dear Dad, published in March 1965. This variant is a slow, emotional song. It can be easily identified by the prominent use of a sax, probably played by Bill Hamilton. This variant is almost three minutes long and commonly referred to as the "Slow Version".
B side of CHESS single 1926 (DJ Copy)
Somebody really liked this song. Just one and a half years later it made it again to the song list of a recording session. In the spring of 1966, a second variant of Lonely School Days was cut. This time it had no sax, but more guitars. Most importantly it was much more rocking, played much faster. Singing the same song at much higher speed reduces the run length to a little over 2:30 minutes.
Surprisingly, this "Fast Version" immediately was used again as the B side of a Chess single. Chess 1963 having Ramona, Say Yes on the plug side was released in June 1966. So we have two Chess singles, released not far apart, having the same song in two different versions.
B side of CHESS single 1963 (DJ Copy)
Soon after the release of the second single, Chuck Berry left Chess Records to work for Mercury. The "Slow Version" never made it to a contemporary album. Only in the late eighties and nineties it was found on some rare LP albums.
However, the "Fast Version" was included on an official Chess album: San Francisco Dues (Chess 50008) was published in 1971, five years after the song's initial release. Berry had returned to Chess and to fill his second new album a few recordings were added which had not made it to LPs before. Interestingly the LP contained a Stereo mix of the "Fast Version" while both singles had been in Mono - as were all Chess singles in the 1960s.
This is the track listing from the back of San Francisco Dues (Chess 50008) containing the Stereo mix of the shorter, fast version.
Remember: San Francisco Dues contained the Stereo mix of the "Fast Version". Simple, isn't it?
However, who listens to Vinyl albums any more? If you listen to San Francisco Dues from one of the streaming services, Lonely School Days isn't fast at all. Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube all play the "Slow Version" as part of San Francisco Dues. Due to this a reader recently emailed and wanted us to correct our database of all Chuck Berry recordings. We are happy for every hint or correction, but here we refused to do any changes, as our listing is correct!
How can it happen that online services play the wrong song - all of them alike? This is due to how they get their playing lists. Record labels such as Universal provide the streaming platforms with the files to play. If the record company is in error, so are all their customers.
We assume that this specific error was introduced as early as 2013. That year Universal in the U.S. published a CD re-release of San Francisco Dues (Geffen GET-54058-CD). And on this re-release they included the wrong variant of Lonely School Days. Morten Reff noticed this and complained about it in his review on this blog soon thereafter. It was not the only thing to complain about: Over and over on label, box, and booklet the company managed to spell "San Fransisco" with an s! One really has to wonder about quality control at Universal.
This is the track listing from the back of Geffen's CD re-issue of San Francisco Dues (Geffen GET-54058-CD) containing the wrong version. Note the mis-spelling of San Francisco and the missing run lengths.
Universal in Japan did a much better job with their re-release of San Francisco Dues (Geffen UICY-94635). They not only included the correct "Fast Version" where it belonged, they also added three bonus tracks: the "Slow Version" in Mono and two different mixes of Ramona, Say Yes.
Moral of the story: In today's digital world errors reproduce fast and are hard to correct. Always double-check with a reliable source.
Many thanks to reader Andy for pointing us to the error in the streaming services - though not for complaining about our database
[Addition by reader Andy: "I should mention that my initial email was actually a failed attempt at correction rather than a complaint. Why would I ever complain about so meticulous and thorough a database regarding one of my favorite artists? Keep up the good work."]
Posted by Dietmar Rudolph in Chuck Berry Recordings at 17:29 | Add Comment | Contact Webmaster
Sunday, January 29. 2023
An Interview with Johnnie Johnson - 1987
On July 5th, 1987 Chuck Berry performed in BĂ„stad, Sweden.
This site's contributor Morten Reff and the Berry fans Johan Hasselberg and Thomas Einarsson had the opportunity to talk to Johnnie Johnson, long-time partner and pianist for Chuck Berry. Thanks to Morten and Johan we can reprint the questions and answers.
Left to right: Morten Reff, Johnnie Johnson, Thomas Einarsson, Johan Hasselberg, and Herman Jackson at the Park Hotel in BĂ„stad, Sweden, July 5, 1987. Herman was Chuck Berry's drummer during the summer 1987 tour. Thomas had done a painting by Chuck Berry that he handed over to Johnnie Johnson.
Photo: Carl Hasselberg
The interview is made over a cup of coffee at the hotel's outdoor seating. Johnnie takes a big chunk of coffee and starts telling about himself:
I was born in West Virginia on July 8, 1924. When I went to school I played piano, drums, and bass. But piano was my main instrument. I was in a High School band until 1943, when I started my military service at the navy. When I pulled out in 1946, I started my first own band. In 1949 I moved to Chicago, and then on to St. Louis.
DID YOU PLAY MOSTLY RHYTHM & BLUES?
Well, most of the time there were nothing but standard songs, such as "Stardust", "Body and Soul", Sunny Side of the Street", or whatever. It was before this rhythm & blues breakthrough.
WHAT PIANISTS DID YOU LISTEN TO AT THIS TIME?
I'm a Oscar Peterson-fantast. Yeah! Oscar Peterson, Errol Garner, and Pete Johnson. Pete Johnson was my first favorite. It was late 1930's and 1940's. I used to play a Pete Johnson song, called "627 Stomp". That was my signature then.
HOW DID YOU TO GET IN CONTACT WITH CHUCK BERRY?
I heard him at a club in East St. Louis called Hoff's Garden. I liked the way he played the guitar. One evening when I was playing, my saxophonist became ill. I called Chuck and asked if he could have the possibility to play the guitar. And he said, "sure, I can play". He came home to me and we played through the songs and then we drove to the show.
Chuck Berry in concert, Norrvikens TrĂ€dgĂ„rdar, BĂ„stad, Sweden, July 5, 1987
Photo: Johan Hasselberg
WHO PLAYED THE SAXOPHONE IN THE JOHNNIE JOHNSON TRIO?
His name was Alvin Bennett. But it was only until 1954. Now he is paralyzed. He can't even... yes, you know.
WAS IT A BASS PLAYER IN THE BAND?
No, it was drums, piano, and saxophone, and then guitar when Chuck came along. We played most at Club Cosmopolitan in East St. Louis. Ebbie Hardy, who played drums, suffered a heart attack and died a few years ago (1983).
CHANGED THE BAND NAME WHEN CHUCK CAME?
No, it was still called The Johnnie Johnson Trio. It was only when Chuck went to Chicago and met Leonard Chess we renamed the band. We recorded the single "Maybellene" and Chuck said, "Johnnie, is it okay that I call it The Chuck Berry Combo?". I said, "Of course, you paid the gas to Chicago", and then it became The Chuck Berry Combo.
Left to right: Chuck Berry, George French, Johnnie Johnson in concert, Norrvikens TrĂ€dgĂ„rdar, BĂ„stad, Sweden, July 5, 1987
Photo: Bo Berglind
YOU PLAY A MELODY ON THE PIANO ON MANY OF CHUCK BERRY'S SONGS.
That's what Chuck Berry wanted me to play. I play as I feel so everything rolls smoothly, just like ice cream on a cream cake!
IT WORKS AS A SOLO INSTRUMENT.
That's right and that's what Chuck Berry likes with my pianoplaying. That's why he doesn't like someone else's pianoplaying than mine! Let me give a good example. Chuck and I have recorded some songs that have not been released. For example, Frog's "Good Times Boogie" and "Honky Tonk Train". It was in the 1950's. It was my music style, but Chuck and I could play together and it sounded like Chuck Berry's music. Chuck is still playing some jazz, as for example, "Jazz at the Philharmonic". He plays all kinds of music!
DO YOU STILL PLAY IN THE CLUBS IN ST. LOUIS?
Yes, three nights a week.
DO YOU PLAY ALONE OR DO YOU HAVE A BAND?
I have a band called Johnnie Johnson & The Magnificent Four, and when Chuck comes to town he plays with us.
WHAT REPERTOIRE DO YOU HAVE?
There are blues, jazz, rhythm & blues, and usually rock when Chuck visit us.
DO YOU EVEN SING?
No, no, I can always talk, but do not sing!
YOU HAVE BEEN AWARDED A DISTINCTION AT ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME.
Yes, I was chosen as the fourth biggest rock'n'roll pianist throughout the ages. It was Fats Domino, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and myself. I didn't know about it, but they sent me a magazine afterwards.
THANK YOU, JOHNNIE !!
Thank you, I hope to see you again!
And, Johan tells, they met again: "Johnnie gave me his address and two years later I greeted him in St. Louis, and listened to Johnnie Johnson & The Magnificent Four."
Many thanks to Morten and Johan for sharing these memories with us!
Posted by Dietmar Rudolph in Chuck Berry Recordings at 11:06 | Add Comment | Contact Webmaster
Monday, June 27. 2022
Chuck Berry - Live from Blueberry Hill - explained
Around Christmas 2021 Dualtone Music released a "new" Chuck Berry album containing live recordings from 2005 and 2006.
Since 1996 Berry had played regular shows at Joe Edwards "Blueberry Hill" in St. Louis, more than 200 of them. In contrast to the huge concert halls typically used for Berry concerts, the 300-seat "Duck Room" brought back the club atmosphere from the 1950 when Berry started to perform in St. Louis.
Also in contrast to his other concerts world-wide, the Blueberry Hill shows always had the same line-up for almost twenty years. The "Blueberry Hill Band" consisted of Berry's children Charles, Jr. and Ingrid, his band leader and bass player for 40+ years Jim Marsala, plus Robert Lohr on piano and Keith Robinson on drums.
As we already know from Dualtone Music, "Live from Blueberry Hill" is sold in many different ways: on CD, as a digital download, and in various Vinyl variants. The music is always the same, and this is what this site is about.
The liner notes to the CD tell a bit about the shows, but very little about the music. There's not even a recording date given, just "All songs recorded live at Blueberry Hill, St. Louis, MO from July 2005 - January 2006". I therefore contacted Bob Lohr, who played piano on all tracks, to find out more about how the recordings were created. Here's what I learned.
Bob Lohr (to the right) and the band (Jim Marsala, Charles, Ingrid, and Chuck Berry) live at the Blueberry Hill 2009
photos courtesy of Doug Spaur, many thanks, Doug! Click to enlarge.
Bob, do you remember when you started playing with Chuck at the Blueberry Hill or at other venues?
1996âŠon Chuckâs 70th birthday. The first three shows were in a different club room at Blueberry Hill called the Elvis RoomâŠcould probably fit 100 people maximumâŠabout the size of a basement recreation room w/ Elvis memorabilia in glass cases on the walls. Joe Edwards later built the Duck Room in 1997 after he took over an adjoining restaurant (Ciceroâs) which moved up the street. Ciceroâs had a music club in the basement which was very smallâŠhad a lot of local acts plus well known national acts occasionally (I played there in local blues bandsâŠalso saw the Doorsâ Ray Manzarek live w/ poet Michael McClure once!). Joe Edwards expanded Ciceroâs club space, including digging out the floor a couple of feet deeperâŠand the Duck Room was born!
Please tell our readers a bit about your musical work. How often did you perform with Chuck, with whom did you share stages?
With Chuck I played almost all the shows at Blueberry Hill (over 200) and at least 100 on the road/private gigs/local gigs outside of Blueberry HillâŠan estimate would be some 350 shows in total.
Thinking back at the Blueberry Hill shows, what made them special in comparison to playing at large halls?
It was a 300-seat venue which made it a more intimate experience for the fansâŠthe St. Louis version of Liverpoolâs Cavern Club. Chuck always had a lot of interaction with audiences wherever he playedâŠcheck out various YouTube clips. People flew in from all over the world to see Chuck at Blueberry Hill. After tickets became obtainable online, people would come up to me after the show from all over the world. Oftentimes I would take them to downtown St. Louis to either BBâs Jazz Blues & Soups or Beale on Broadway to hear some serious blues/r&b. A lot of these tourists were traveling through what I call âBlues/Rock Ground Zeroâ, or hitting all the music cities within a 300-mile radius of St. Louis: Chicago, Memphis/Clarksdale, Nashville etcâŠ
The new CD presents a short show of just 30 minutes. Was this the standard length of the Blueberry Hill performances?
No, Chuckâs standard show was 1 hour wherever we played.
30 minutes seem to become the new standard for albums. Given that many people listen to music using digital streaming, 30 minutes seems to be "long enough" for the labels and for the listener's attention span.
As for the song selection, we only hear Chuck's greatest hits plus Walter Jacobs' "Mean Old World". Was this a typical tracklist?
No, we did at least two or three blues numbers per gig. âWee Wee Hoursâ of courseâŠalso âIt Hurts Me Tooâ and âKey To The Highwayâ, âEvery Day I Have The Bluesâ, âWorried Life Bluesâ, âBeer Drinkinâ Womanâ etc.
Do you remember Chuck playing more obscure and rare songs from his huge repertoire? On the CHUCK album for instance there's a Blueberry Hill recording of Tony White's "Enchiladas".
Not reallyâŠwould usually play the well known songs.
What do you think is missing from new CD? Is there any special song you remember from Blueberry Hill which you wished to hear again?
We used to do âBrown Eyed Handsome Manâ and âPromised Landâ on an occasional basisâŠalso, âWorried Life BluesââŠ
Ingrid is heard only on two tracks, "Mean Old Word" and "Let It Rock". Was it typical that she only joined small segments of the show? Or has she been with you only sometimes and was absent when the other tracks were recorded?
She was at every show in St. Louis onstage. She did not go on every road trip.
The two songs Ingrid plays harmonica on as well as "Roll Over Beethoven" are also the only three songs on this album we hear you soloing. Have you been allowed to solo during the shows? Or was it just Chuck and the rhythm he needed?
As you can hear on the latest live CD, Chuck would throw us solos on almost every songâŠvery generous in that regard.
A reviewer wrote that to his ears Charles Jr. is playing the lead of "Johnny B. Goode" on the new CD. Did father and son share and distribute the lead guitar solos?
No, thatâs clearly Chuck on Johnny B. Goode here. Chuck did almost all the lead guitar on stage and threw Charles Jr. some solos during the set. Charles Jr. does a solo at approximately 1:57 of Roll Over Beethoven right after mine. Charles Jr.âs rhythm guitar can be heard throughout this CD on the left channel.
Chuck was close to eighty years when these recordings were made. We almost cannot notice when he sings and plays.
You cannot notice in these 2005 shows, but as his later show recordings sadly indicated, Chuckâs hearing was seriously degraded. He had some expensive hearing aids but he didnât like wearing them onstageâŠone actually fell out on the stage and could not be found later!
Bob, what is your favorite recollection from Blueberry Hill?
One of the coolest things I remember about the Blueberry Hill shows was hearing and watching Chuck warm up with his guitar backstage before the show. Chuck would warm up with his guitar while not plugged into an amplifier. It was amazing to hearâŠall the classic Chuck Berry licks played perfectly by the man himselfâŠoften did some amazing things which I never heard him do onstage. It was like all the years and age were stripped away and he was back again playing in the 50âsâŠIâm so sorry that I never asked Chuck whether he would allow me to record him on my iPhoneâŠabsolutely amazing. You could also hear him warming up when he was changing clothes in the bathroom. Once he opened the door and I watched him playing guitar in the mirrorâŠChuck told me he liked playing in the bathroom because the reverb reminded him of the Chess studio!
Many thanks for your explanations, Bob! We appreciate to hear from "the sources".
Posted by Dietmar Rudolph in Chuck Berry Recordings at 14:12 | Add Comment | Contact Webmaster
Saturday, May 7. 2022
Run! Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer â and the copyright mystery
[original post published Dec. 2013 - addition May 2022]
It's Christmas time and while listening to the radio, from time to time you'll hear one of the various cover versions of Berry's Run Rudolph Run. Berry's???
While everyone will tell you that this is a typical Chuck Berry song with a typical Berry melody (later re-used at the same session for Little Queenie) and typical Berry lyrics (Said Santa to a boy child, "What have you been longing for?" — "All I want for Christmas is a Rock and Roll electric guitar!"), all over the Internet you will read that this song was written by Johnny Marks and Marvin Broadie! And this includes Wikipedia âŠ
With the help of three fellow Berry experts, biographer Bruce Pegg, discographer Morten Reff, and sessionographer Fred Rothwell, I've tried to sort out a few facts from the rumors.
In 1939 Robert L. May wrote the story of Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, first for his daughter Barbara, later as a giveaway booklet for his employer, the Montgomery Ward Company. Ward's was the first owner of the Rudolph copyright. In 1946 the copyright was transferred back to May and today belongs to The Rudolph Company, L.P., that means May's heirs.
In 1949 Johnny Marks, husband of May's sister Margaret and both a songwriter and radio producer, took the tale and created the famous Christmas song Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The singing cowboy Gene Autry seems to be the first who recorded the song (though some sources name Harry Brannon) and made it a huge hit. Copyright to the 1949 Rudolph song is owned by Marks own publishing company called St. Nicholas Music, Inc.
In 1958, Chuck Berry recorded his version of a Christmas story named Run Rudolph Run. The original Chess release 1714 came with this authors line:
(C. Berry Music — M. Brodie) / ARC BMI
Chuck Berry Music, Inc., Berry's company, is listed here as the author as it is on most Chess singles starting with Beautiful Delilah up to Ramona Say Yes. For some reasons, probably financial, it seems to have made sense to use a company name here instead of an individual's name. As the melody is pure Chuck Berry, it's no wonder that Chuck Berry Music, Inc. claimed authorship and that ARC, the Chess/Goodman publishing company, claimed copyright.
But, mystery #1:
Who is "M. Brodie"? Chuck Berry using a co-writer? A person named M. Brodie does not exist on the Internet. Not as a songwriter nor in any relation to a record company. So if M. Brodie was a songwriter, Run Rudolph Run is his or her only published work. But M. Brodie might also have been someone Berry or the Chess Brothers wanted to give a favor (money/fame) â as they did with Alan Freed on the original Maybellene record. Or M. Brodie might be just a pen name such as "E. Anderson" on Let It Rock who was Berry in disguise.
In the ASCAP authors database, the co-writer of Run Rudolph Run named M. Brodie is identified as member number 268788988. While it's strange that Run Rudolph Run even exists in the ASCAP database because the original single clearly refers to the rival songwriter organization BMI, it becomes even more strange:
Member number 268788988 has additional entries for songs he wrote or co-wrote. All these additional songs stem from albums recorded by a late 1990s group called the Soultans of which a Marvin Lee Broadie was lead singer. And Marvin Lee Broadie indeed wrote some Soultans songs such as Cross My Heart on their Love, Sweat and Tears album. But if you look at Broadie's photo on his concert management site, I strongly doubt he was even born when Berry's Rudolph hit the record stores. Or, as Bruce Pegg puts it:
So unless this songwriter wrote one song in 1958, then had 40 years of writers block only to surface again as a writer for a German pop band at the end of the 90s, this Mr. Broadie is not our man.And don't overlook the different spelling of M. Brodie and Marvin Broadie.
So let's go to mystery #2:
Up to today on all Chess records or re-releases Berry's recording is always credited to Berry/Brodie or just Berry, this includes the latest HIP-O-Select boxes. In contrast, the ASCAP database and almost all cover versions name the songwriters as Johnny Marks and Marvin Broadie. Marvin Broadie aside, what has Johnny Marks to do with the Berry song?
Wikipedia claims that Marks indeed wrote the song, though Wikipedia fails to give a source for this claim. Is it likely that Marks wrote the Berry tune? Not if you compare Run Rudolph Run to Autry's hit record. But if you knew that in 1958 Marks wrote Brenda Lee's Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, that story might not be too far away. Our mysterious M. Brodie could be an alias for Johnny Marks, which allowed him (an ASCAP songwriter) to team up with Berry (a BMI songwriter). However, while this is possible, I don't believe it.
More likely is a different, more logical link to Marks. His publishing company St. Nicholas Music, Inc. is very strict about copyrights. And in fact the company was created by Marks just because of the Rudolph song and to cash on its success. As such it has "exploited the name and likeness of Rudolph via trademarks in connection with a wide variety of products and services, such as musical performances, audio recordings, sheet music and other music publications" (quoted from court papers). So Marks may have forced Arc Music/Chess Records to register the song with ASCAP and under the Marks/Brodie name. St. Nicholas Music, Inc. along with Character Arts, LLC (which owns the rights to the Rudolph 1964 TV special) successfully forbids Rudolph to appear in movies unless you pay for a license. And they certainly forbid Rudolph to appear in songs as well.
I'm really glad that my rights to the Rudolph name are older than theirs. Otherwise I might have feared their lawyers for using it.
The mysteries remain. I am 100 per cent sure that the mysterious M. Brodie never heard himself called Marvin. This dual use of the 268788988 member number in the ASCAP database is certainly an error introduced by trying to remove variant spellings for the same writer. This is where M. Brodie was mixed up with Marvin Lee Broadie. Johnny Marks' entry to the game was most certainly due to legal reasons. I strongly doubt Marks' contribution to the song, but if you can put some light into this darkness, let me know.
Someone sent me a copy of a Facebook post by Daryl Davis, who played piano behind Chuck Berry in later years. Unfortunately I don't have a link or date to share.
Daryl reports on a discussion between him and Berry in preparation for a New Year's Eve show at B.B.King's in NYC:
I asked him about why Run Run Rudolph a/k/a Run Rudolph Run was often credited to Johnny Marks and somebody named Brodie. He said that he wrote the song himself but the name "Rudolph" had been trademarked and the publishing company publishing his songs had been sued for his using it. He was perturbed that the publishing company didn't fight the suit more vigorously, because Johnny Marks had nothing to do with his song and now he had to share the copyright. He also said that Brodie did not exist and it was a scheme to make more money for Marks and his publisher. He regretted not pursing it more at the time. But he still continued to make a lot of money from the song, just not as much as he was entitled to make. It was a bittersweet song for him.
In today's news there was some reporting about limitations to fair use of fictional characters in local copyright laws, in this case German Urheberrecht. A very well-known song in Europe is the title song to the 1969 TV series Pippi Longstocking. The original Swedish lyrics were written by Astrid Lindgren herself (melody by Jan Johansson). The German lyrics were written by Wolfgang Franke. 60 years after Lindgren's initial complaints about not getting compensation for use of her fictional character in Franke's text, copyright court rulings and a final settlement between the heirs explained that at least following these local laws you're not free to use the name and properties of a fictional character without sharing the income. Following this, at least here in Germany Robert May was entitled to shared copyright on the Rudolph lyrics.
Posted by Dietmar Rudolph in Chuck Berry Recordings at 12:18 | Add Comment | Contact Webmaster
Friday, April 16. 2021
The Toronto Concert Complete - not yet - still
Everyone interested in Chuck Berry's music knows the Toronto concert. This is because Berry's performance at the Toronto Rock&Roll Revival festival of September 13th, 1969 has been recorded professionally both on film and on audio tape.
The audio was published on hundreds of vinyl and CD albums starting with the 2-LP set Live in Concert (Magnum LP-703) in 1978. The optical recording was used as early as 1970, most importantly in D.A. Pennebaker's movie Keep On Rockin' from 1972.
The interesting thing to collectors is that none of the audio or video releases contains the entire performance. The 2-LP set has, very uncommon for a live recording, each song completely separated with faded start and ending. The movie contains just a selection of songs as well as some in-between talks, but cut and spliced as it fitted to the director.
it is totally unclear why there has never been a complete release of the entire show. At least in the 1980s and 1990s a more complete source still existed, as budget re-releases of the concert contained indeed MORE than the original Magnum album. For instance a French LP album contains half a minute of introduction between School Day and Wee Wee Hours.
Thus at least in the 1990s some company still owned a more complete, maybe entire tape of the show they could license. Some labels used this, though never in total.
It is unclear whether this tape still exists somewhere. When Bear Family in 2014 released their huge Berry box, they tried to find it, but didn't succeed. Therefore Bear Family extracted the only song from the show still missing an audio release (the short Bonsoir Cherie) from Pennebaker's movie.
We all thought this would be the end of the story. But a few days ago, Sunset Blvd. Records released another audio CD with music from Toronto, but promoted their release with a prominently placed large sticker:
Even those like me who already have dozens of records containing the same show, felt tempted to buy one of the (pretty expensive) CDs. Don't do it!
Also Sunset Blvd. Records (SBR) did NOT find the original audio tape. Instead they cut and spliced available and well-known material trying to recreate the original concert. There's nothing wrong trying so. I did the same in 1997. However, I used all the material from all the sources. SBR obviously only had the Magnum album and Pennebaker's film.
This means that several of the transitions between songs are missing from this CD. And it means that what sounds like on-stage chatter and comments is not at the correct place, since Pennebaker already had cut and spliced segments from all over the concert and shuffled them around.
The songs are not in the correct sequence and parts of the show are omitted even though already known. The only interesting thing is that SBR included Kim Fowley's introduction to Berry.
So this is a fake! And at some time SBR must have recognized it. MC Kim Fowley is heard twice at song endings applauding Berry. One is at the non-medley version of Johnny B. Goode and thus also on the SBR CD. A second time is at the end of Maybellene.This and its placement at the end of the Magnum 2-LP set lets me assume that this song is one of the rare encores in a Berry concert. SBR instead decided to place Maybellene after I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man which ends with Berry asking "You name it, we play it." Maybellene starts with "Did I hear Maybellene?" Fits, thought the people at SBR. But this required them to cut off Kim Fowley from the end of the song and to fade over into Too Much Monkey Business.
And indeed it's too much monkey business here. Why to spend all the effort to create such a fake? Either you have the original tape or you don't. But don't pretend to have it.
Interestingly the liner notes refer to and correctly name our database as a source. So they must have found this site. But why didn't they read the long chapter we have dedicated to this concert alone? All this leaves us fairly disappointed.
To end with a positive note: Have a look at Don Pennebaker's description about how the title Keep On Rockin' got selected and about his visit to John Lennon's bedroom showing him the film: https://phfilms.com/films/sweet-toronto-keep-on-rockin/#summary
Somehow Pennebaker misses to tell that Lennon demanded payment for his appearance and thus had to be cut from the film.
Posted by Dietmar Rudolph in Chuck Berry Recordings at 11:57 | Add Comment | Contact Webmaster
Friday, October 18. 2019
Chuck Berry in Stereo
When Chuck Berry started recording in 1955, recording was done in Mono (although Bill Putnam tells that even in the early 1950s they cut some non-Berry takes secretly on two-track stereo tape [“A THIRTY-FIVE YEAR HISTORY AND EVOLUTION OF THE RECORDING STUDIO”, Milton T. Putnam, http://www.aes.org/aeshc/pdf/putnam_history-of-recording-studios.pdf]).
When Jack Wiener in 1957 built the famous Sheldon Recording Studios at 2120 South Michigan Av. in Chicago where Berry's most important recordings were made, he had provisions to record in Stereo. However, this “double-mono” system was not intended to create stereo recordings but instead mainly thought of as a secondary backup mono system in case some gear failed.
We do not know if any of Berry's early Chess recordings were recorded in Stereo. What we do know is that at least in February 1960 Stereo finally made it to the recording process. This is because “Diploma For Two”, recorded Feb. 15th, 1960, is available as a true stereo version which was released in 1967 on a British album (“You Never Can Tell”, Marble Arch MALS-702).
As Remastering and Restoration Engineer Steve Hoffman tells, the Chess studios got a four-track recording machine in 1959. They now started to record everything in both Mono and Stereo concurrently. It was common then to do a dedicated mono mix on one of the four tracks with the other three tracks used by three stereo channels (left, center, right). [https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/chuck-berry-rock-n-roll-rarities-and-more-rock-n-roll-rarities-info.854690/]
However, Andy McKaie (who for instance created the Berry 4-CD sets on Hip-O Select and won the Grammy award “Best Historical Album” for the 1988 “Chuck Berry — The Chess Box”) is quoted saying,
As far as mono versus stereo goes, it seems that if they recorded something specifically for an album in the '60s it was recorded and mixed in stereo. If recorded for a single, it's a toss-up, and for extended periods of time, they never bothered to do anything but mono mixes. [Some specific non-Berry] '63 sessions [...] were recorded and assembled for an album, but only a mono assembly was done and the multi-tracks are either unmarked in our vault or missing. The running masters from those sessions are even only in mono, whereas I have found running masters from 1959 Howlin' Wolf that are in stereo. Then again, nothing but mono exists from Wolf's Red Rooster in '61, though there's a stereo master for Shake for Me from same session. The inconsistency drives me nuts, too, but I can only issue what we have available to me to issue. Sometimes life is like that. — Chess used to keep a two track running for sessions, even when they were doing multi-track sessions. Sometimes the two track seemed to be in mono, sometimes stereo. Before he died, Ron Malo told me that Chess really didn't care about or understand stereo, so if an engineer or a producer didn't dwell on it, what you got was a tossup. Leonard did the Muddy sessions, except for the concept albums, and according to Ron, he really wasn't interested in stereo - his notion was that he was making a single to sell... [https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/for-steve-stereo-remixes.1192/page-2]
After MCA Records had distributed Chess records (including Berry re-issues) since 1983, the company finally in 1984 bought the Chess/Checker/Cadet catalog from Sugar Hill Records, then owner of the Chess archives (whereas the sale by itself is an interesting story resulting in multiple law suits). In 1985 Steve Hoffman got access to the original four-track master tapes. He used some of these for MCA's “Rock 'n' Roll Rarities“ (Chess 2-LP set 92521, March 1986) and “More Rock 'n' Roll Rarities” (Chess LP 9190, August 1986) albums. This resulted in the very first stereo recording by Chuck Berry we know of: “I Got To Find My Baby” originally recorded Feb. 12th, 1960. One should note, though, that Hoffman was using the original three Stereo tracks to newly mix them to create the two Stereo channels on disk. Thus this is not an original 1960s mix if there ever was one.
Steve Hoffman later said:
I really dislike my stereo remixes on the Chuck Berry discs I did. I was way too "gentle" with them. They needed a lot more compression and general nasty stuff to make them sound like their mono counterparts. At the time, I fell in to the trap that usually gets all "remixers" of old classic stuff: The urge to play God. In other words, to make things sound "better" than the original mixes, and to share with all of you music lovers the way the actual multi-track tapes sound. This (in hindsight) is a mistake, because the multi's are just work parts, and sound way too clean to be of any valid interest or use in any thing other than a historical context. If the real mixes vanish just because they are mono, or sound a bit rough, well, this would be a shame... — I didn't realize this until 1986 when my friend and reissue expert Diana Reid Haig explained to me that the "original mix is THE mix, regardless of how bad it sounds, and that anything else is just playing God". She was right. I've never heard a remix that has the energy, life and as good a "vibe" as the original, mono or stereo. — I love stereo. Don't misunderstand me. Stereo is great. If a song or album was only released in mono, and stereo versions can be created, it's fine with me, as long as the "spirit" of the original mix is kept. [https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/for-steve-stereo-remixes.1192/]
So Hoffman created stereo mixes of songs previously available only in Mono. Remembering the technical difficulties in working with 25-year-old tapes, Steve Hoffman told me:
In the early stereo period (when they got the Ampex 4-track until maybe the end of 1961), the music was recorded using the Ampex Master EQ button on the machine. This took it off the NAB standard and made everything sound screechy. When played back, of course, the screech vanished and with it (so the theory goes) some of the tape hiss as well. Only problem? If you didn't have the exact same machine as the one in the studio during recording, the playback was never right. I had to really consult with many Ampex historians in order to get the right EQ to play back those bad sounding 1/2" tapes.
About the other recordings from these two February 1960 sessions Steve Hoffman told me:
I'm certain that all songs from those sessions were there in 1/2". I chose the songs to put on the Rarities because either feedback from fans or I personally liked them. I wanted the songs that sounded more Chuck Berry-like. I took the 1/2" reels into the studio to listen and picked the songs that way. Didn't have the time or budget to do a complete stereo reduction of all the songs nor the research, since the paperwork was so incomplete and they had NO idea what was on many of the reels.
Even though they still existed in 1985, by today the session tapes are lost, as all of the Chess masters were destroyed in the burning of the Universal tape vaults in 2008.
Some more stereo recordings from 1960 and 1961 have survived on Marble Arch records and on Hoffman's 1986 albums: “Bye Bye Johnny”, “Run Around”, “Down The Road A Piece”, “I'm Talking About You”, “Go Go Go”, an alternate take of “Route 66”, and the 1961 version of “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man”. Contemporary, all these were released in Mono only. The stereo version of “Come On”, which is a different recording than the one on the mono single, has been mixed two times, one during the 1960s for a Marble Arch release, one in 1985 for the Rarities album.
List of Chuck Berry stereo recordings from 1960/1961:
When Berry returned to the recording studio in January 1964, the industry had changed. Stereo recording was now common and albums were sold in stereo versions along with the mono versions (though at a higher price). According to Steve Hoffman, Chess still recorded on four-track tapes, but now used all four tracks to record separated segments of the song (e.g. vocal, guitar, piano and rhythm).
Mono versions of the songs were still needed, though. Since record player cartridges often could not play the stereo records, companies still produced mono albums. And singles were all-mono anyway. Since the original session tape was now multi-tracked, there were two ways to create a mono version: You could take the original multi-track and mix a dedicated mono version like you did with the stereo version. Or you could mix the stereo version first and then combine the two stereo channels into a single mono channel. This is called “folding down the Stereo”. A folded-down stereo results in a release on which the center instruments (which are on both stereo channels) are much louder than the left and right instruments (which are only on one channel). At least for some songs Chess used both techniques. The so-called “UK mix” (on Chess CRL-4005) of “Jamaica Farewell” is a dedicated mono mix, while the “US mix” (on Chess LP-1495) is a fold-down from the stereo mix (with more prominent vocals). The two sound that different, early discographies had them listed as different takes.
Starting from “Nadine”, we find Berry's recordings both as a mono mix or fold-down (on singles and mono albums) and as a stereo mix (on stereo albums). In the US the stereo versions were on the Chess albums numbered with an LPS prefix, while the mono versions were on the Chess albums numbered just with an LP prefix. For instance “His Daughter Caroline” is on “Chuck Berry In London” Chess LP-1495 in Mono and on LPS-1495 in true Stereo; “No Particular Place To Go” is on “St. Louis To Liverpool” Chess LP-1488 in Mono and on LPS-1488 in true Stereo.
Note that Steve Hofmann re-mixed “No Particular Place To Go” for the 1986 Rarities album (Chess LP 92521) thus creating a different Stereo mix. Steve was aware of the original mixes but tried to make it better:
I would have been able to duplicate the original mono or stereo mix of the Chuck Berry stuff. I just didn't WANT to. I wanted to stay far away from the feel of the original mixes; why bother to remix them? I had some cockeyed notion of "revealing" what it must have sounded like in the studio actually recording stuff, before all of those nasty "compromises" like dynamic range compression, detail obscuring echo and tonal enhancing equalization came into the picture. Problem is, as we know, those things actually MAKE the mix special. Oh well. What I mixed sounds to me these days like good pre-mix demo versions. Heh. Better than nothing I guess... — What I don't like, is making a new stereo mix where the original stereo mix works just fine. For what reason do this? Ego, usually. I went down that road. All engineers do. Can't be helped. In all cases (expect one, I guess, Simon & Garfunkel's PSRT), I can spot a remix like a dead skunk: Beloved levels are different, compression is less, or more. Echo is digital or too much, or not enough, EQ is radically changed. In most cases, the mixes sound "modern". Geez I hate that. Usually the hard left/right/center has been changed. [https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/steve-if-you-had-do-re-do-a-cd-which-one-would-it-be.16949/ and https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/for-steve-stereo-remixes.1192/ ]
Where Hoffman had access to the original four-track session tapes, he could rearrange the various instruments to what would become the left and right stereo channels. He did so with all his remixes except for “You Never Can Tell”. A reason may be that on this song Berry's vocal had been overdubbed in the chorus sections of the song. If there was no separate track left for the vocal overdub, the overdubbing was probably done to a final two-track stereo mix. As Hoffman told me:
I liked the original stereo mix and discovered that the stereo ALBUM master was really just a dub with extra echo of the original two-track stereo album mixes (marked "DO NOT USE"). So, of course I used the version with less echo. I think if you will compare you will find that the version I used with less echo is more pleasing to the ear.
On other songs such as “It Wasn't Me”, the remix was done from the original non-overdubbed session tapes, on “Little Marie” the vocal and guitar overdub was obviously on a separate track on the tape as Hoffman moved it around in his remix.
Almost all of Berry's Chess recordings made between 1964 and 1966 exist in true Stereo as well as in mono mixes. The original Chess albums were issued in both Mono and Stereo, the original Chess singles were issued in Mono only.
List of Chuck Berry stereo recordings from 1964 to 1966:
(Those studio recordings from this period which were first released on the HIP-O Select and Bear Family boxes are omitted from this list as they are only available in Stereo.)
In 1967 when Mercury released their first Chuck Berry album, discussions in the industry had been heated. The companies wanted to get rid of the additional effort to create both stereo and mono versions of the same album. Most of the record players were now able to play mono and stereo records alike. However, record buyers did not necessarily know and were still asking for the cheaper mono albums.
Mercury was among the first companies to play a simple trick on their customers: They pressed stereo albums only but placed some of them in a jacket claiming Mono. Therefore Chuck Berry's first Mercury album “Golden Hits” (1967) came in two different sleeves: Mercury MG-21103 claims to be Mono, Mercury SR-61103 claims to be Stereo. Both jackets however contained the exact same disk etched “2/61103 A/B” (later pressings had just “SR-61103” in multiple variations). According to Thierry Chanu, “Golden Hits” was issued in Mono only in France (Mercury 124.033 MDL).
Note that one track on Mercury MG-21103/SR-61103 is not a true stereo version. “Club Nitty Gritty” had been mixed to Mono for the 1966 single release. Instead of using/mixing a true stereo version for the album release, Mercury “electronically reprocessed for stereo” this track. ERS was a technique used in the 1960s to make mono recordings (such as Berry's early Chess takes) sound like stereo. To do so, the original mono signal was copied to both stereo channels. On one channel the higher tones were enhanced, on the other the lower tones. One channel was delayed a tiny fraction of a second and artificial echo and reverb were used to mask this delay. Unfortunately this distorts the original recording to an amount which makes them sound ugly when compared to the original mono mix. Most of Berry's mono recordings also exist in an “electronically altered for stereo” variant, but that's not our topic here. The interesting part is that a true stereo version of “Club Nitty Gritty” has never been released (which in turn opens room for discussions about whether this recording was done at the Mercury sessions at all).
The trick to hide stereo records in mono jackets seems not to have worked, though, as Mercury's following two Berry albums were released in two variants again: “Chuck Berry in Memphis” (Mercury MG-21123/SR-61123, Sept. 1967) and “Chuck Berry Live at Fillmore Auditorium” (Mercury MG-21138/SR-61138, Nov. 1967) came in both Mono and Stereo. The original recordings were done multi-tracked, the mixes were in pure stereo. Afterwards the stereo mixes were folded down to mono.
List of Chuck Berry stereo recordings from 1966/1967:
(All those recordings first released in or after 1968 are omitted from this list as they are all and usually only in Stereo.)
The last two Berry albums for Mercury, released in 1968 and 1969, as well as all the Chess albums which followed exist as stereo records only.
Commercial 45rpm singles have been all Mono throughout the 1960s. The only clients requesting stereo singles were the modern FM radio stations. As they broadcast in Stereo, they even waited for the stereo album to be released before playing a would-be-hit. [read https://www.bsnpubs.com/stereoproject/stereo1968.html for details]
Therefore some record companies started to provide promotional singles in Stereo to the FM stations and the corresponding promotional singles in Mono to the AM stations. Mercury shipped a few stereo singles as DJ copies, though none with Berry material. Beginning in 1969 Mercury's promotion department omitted the B side of singles completely and created special 45s having the plug-side in Stereo on one side and the same song in Mono on the other which were then sent to all DJs. Again there are no Berry singles known in this DJ- numbered series. All of Berry's Mercury promotional and commercial singles are in Mono only.
When Berry returned to Chess in 1969, things had changed again. Every modern record player could now play from stereo records, even those limited to produce a mono signal. Both album and singles were now produced to be playable on both mono and stereo equipment (using Howard Holzer's CSG technique or similar, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haeco-CSG). At Chess they were so proud about this, they even created a brand-name for these compatible records: “CONCEPT 12”. You can find this brand name on the label of Berry's first new record for Chess, “Tulane b/w Have Mercy, Judge” (CHESS 2090, March 1970) as well as a few other Chess 45s and albums from 1969/1970. Both the DJ copy and the commercial release of Berry's single had an imprint “Recorded in CONCEPT 12 — Playable Stereo & Mono”.
From 1970 onwards, no mono releases of new Berry material were ever produced or released; with one exception: In 1979 ATCO Records produced a DJ copy of Berry's new 45rpm single “Oh What a Thrill b/w California” (ATCO 7203). And just like in 1970 the promotional single had the plug-side “Oh What a Thrill” on both sides, one in Stereo and one in Mono.
Steve Hoffman was of great help during the research of this article both through the public explanations on his forum as well as by answering additional questions in email. Andy McKaie was so nice to check the text for correctness and provided some additional thoughts. Many thanks to both! Next, the author needs to (and really likes to) thank fellow researchers Morten Reff and Thierry Chanu for listening to songs such as “O Rangutang” and “Club Nitty Gritty” dozens of times in hunt for a true stereo version in their huge collections of Chuck Berry records as well as their additional help with variants and images. Finally huge thanks go to fellow researcher Arne Wolfswinkel for his technical expertise in analyzing released versions in search for the original session tape contents.
Posted by Dietmar Rudolph in Chuck Berry Recordings at 10:09 | Add Comment | Contact Webmaster
Saturday, April 13. 2019
Unanswered questions about the recording of Memphis, Tennessee
The following post from February 18, 2019 was supposed to demonstrate the difficulties we face while trying to reconstruct Chuck Berry's recording legacy from the few sources we have. And it was supposed to provoke readers to provide further knowledge. Scroll down for additional comments.
[Within our database of all Chuck Berry recordings we try to present the most complete and the most correct information about Berryâs recording work. The database is the result of decades of research using all of the data publicly available about these recordings (and sometimes even more). However, we deal here with recordings which were made when we, the researchers, were little kids or not even born. This means that most of what we do is historical research. Arne Wolfswinkel presents here an example of how difficult such research is.]
Memphis, Tennessee is one of Berryâs best-known songs. However, its origins and its recording details are very obscure. There are at least three different sources which talk about different personnel involved in the creation of the recording.
Today we think of Memphis as one of Berryâs greatest hits and one of his most important masterpieces. But at the time the song and the recording originated, nobody really knew what to do with it as it was so different. Bruce Pegg summarized the song as follows:
[The song] is a masterpiece of storytelling, simple and yet full of detail. It is also, quite possibly, one of the earliest pop songs ever to deal with the effects of divorce and child custody, certainly one of the first to deal with it from a male point of view.  In a two-minute pop song, Chuck Berry captured the frustrations and sadness of a divorced father, a rare adult theme in the disposable world of 1950s teenage rock and roll. [Bruce Pegg, Brown Eyed Handsome Man, p 106]
This was not to become a hit record in 1958. Which is why its release history is reasonable: it was not released at all after recorded in mid 1958. Chess Records hid it on the back of single 1729 (Back in the USA), released in June 1959 concurrently with the movie âGo, Johnny, Go!â (and its promotional soundtrack album) into which it did not fit either.
One must merely ignore the central plot and the two characters played by Jimmy Clanton and Sandy Stewart, although even there you get some insights into the differences between the way that some black artists perceived and wrote rock & roll, and how white teen audiences perceived it. As Chuck Berry performs "Memphis Tennessee" on television (concluding with a fiercely sexual "duckwalk" that was astonishing for a black man to be seen doing, in a movie aimed at mainstream white audiences in 1959), a very serious song about marriage, divorce, and broken families, Clanton's and Stewart's characters are seen laughing as they watch the performance onscreen at her home. [Bruce Eder, AllMovie.com]
In the movie, Berry performs, well lip-syncs, Memphis all by himself in front of a TV camera. What we can definitely tell is that here we miss instruments playing. There definitely are drums on the recorded track as well as multiple guitars.
Trying to find out who played which instrument on Memphis, CHESS master number 9073, we find inconsistent data.
According to âThe Chess Labels: A Discographyâ by Michel Ruppli the song was recorded during a September 1958 session in Chicago, with Berry on vocals and guitar, possibly Bo Diddley on second guitar, Johnny Johnson on piano, Willie Dixon on (double) bass and Fred Below on drums. This line-up was repeated in a recent French discography and others.
In contrast, a discography printed on the 1972 sleeve of âChuck Berryâs Golden Decade, Vol. 2â states âMemphis recorded by Berry himself and drums added by Chessâ.
In his 1987 autobiography Chuck Berry confirms this, although he claims to have played the drums himself:
Memphis  was recorded  on a $145 homemade studio in the heat of a muggy July afternoon with a $79 reel-to-reel Sears, Roebuck recorder that had provisions for sound-on-sound recording. I played the guitar and the bass track, and I added the ticky-tick drums that trot along in the background which sound so good to me. I worked over a month on revising the lyric before I took the tape up to Leonard Chess to listen to. He was again pressed for a release since my concerts (driving on the road then) kept me from the recording studio for long periods.
Based on Berryâs recollection, Fred lists both Memphis and Jo Jo Gunne (which has the same primitive sounding fidelity) as being recorded in St. Louis, July 1958 when he publishes his book âLong Distance Informationâ (2001). He changes his mind when thirteen years later the details of a September 26, 1958 recording contract become available. Both songs are listed on the contract, which also reports that the musicians present at the session are Berry (vocals, guitar), Otis Spann (piano), Willie Dixon (double bass), and Jasper Thomas (drums). Placing the songs (back) in the session, the matrix numbers allocated to the songs now run consecutively, so Fred concludes that Berry must have confused a demo recording of Memphis with the studio cut.
However, itâs still possible Berryâs recollection is actually correct and he recorded the master of Memphis â and Jo Jo Gunne â in his home studio.
First of all, both songs just feature vocals, guitar, and drums (the bass part on Memphis is actually played on the low strings of a guitar). Why are Spann and Dixon suddenly absent? Of course, it could be an artistic decision not to include piano and bass on those songs, but it still seems a bit odd if they were there during the session.
Secondly, Berry writes that he used a âreel-to-reel  recorder that had provisions for sound-on-sound recordingâ â a technique where layers of sound are placed on top of each other (a famous example being How High the Moon by Les Paul and Mary Ford, recorded in 1951). This would explain why the fidelity of those songs is much lower (loss of clarity, considerately more tape hiss) than Anthony Boy and Sweet Little Rock and Roller, the other tracks recorded at the September 1958 session. And it might be coincidental, but session reels with multiple takes of those two songs still exist, while this isnât the case for Memphis nor Jo Jo Gunne.
However, we know for certain that Berry misremembers one thing: the only $79 recorder available in 1956 and 1958 catalogues of the Sears & Roebuck mail-order company was the Silvertone 7070, which had no way to do sound-on-sound. Perhaps Berry mixed up his receipts and used an AMPEX or Berlant Concertone recorder, which did have provisions for sound-on-sound in 1958.
Unfortunately, we probably will never find out what has happened exactly. It is possible that Berry recorded Memphis and Jo Jo Gunne all by himself at home. It is also possible that both the basic track and the overdubs were done at the Chess studios. And every combination of home tape and studio overdubs is possible as well. Until we learn better, our database will list Jasper Thomasâ drums and the additional guitars as overdubs with a note that there is an option that Berry recorded all instruments by himself.
Comment from April 13, 2019:
Chuck Berry expert Jean-Pierre Ravelli, who ran a European fan club in the 1960s and 1970s, tells us that he remembers talking to Francine Gillium in August 1970. Fran was Berry's personal secretary and managed his fan clubs and businesses since the 1950s. In her talk with Jean-Pierre, Fran confirmed that 'Memphis, Tennessee' was recorded at Berry's office and that she (Fran) had been playing the drums. Of course we can only speculate whether such a claim is valid and if it is, whether this was the recording which finally made it to the records.
Comment from November 25, 2019 (and following):
Dave Rubin, author of "Play Like Chuck Berry" (Hal Leonard Corp., to be released in 2020), found another reason which may point to a home recording: "While analyzing the guitar solo I noticed a mistake where he misses his mark by one fret. In measure 14 of the guitar solo Chuck plays D/F at fret 10 instead of D#/F# at fret 11. Maybe he thought he could get away with it, and he has, as the rest of the recording was a good take?" Maybe. Though it's doubtful that such a minor mistake would have forced recording of another take even in the studio. The error could indicate it's indeed a 'sound on sound' recording (so Berry wasn't able to have another go at the overdub), but on the other hand, there are other such examples from his sessions at Chess.
Comment from February 20, 2020 (and following):
Using experimental software called Spleeter, which tries to split a given recording back into individual tracks, we tried to find out more about the instruments and overdubs used. The algorithm to split tracks is far from perfect (and probably the task is often impossible to solve), but the software does a nice job in extracting the drums.
Arne summarizes what we got from Spleeter's output: "There are three guitars parts: the 'rhythm' part which starts the song, immediately followed by the 'bass' part (played on the lower strings of the guitar). Come to think of it, this part probably inspired George Harrison for the Beatles' Two of Us. The 'lead' part starts during the first verse.
As far as I can hear, the drummer only uses a floor tom on the song (and perhaps another tom or a snare drum with a loosened snare). I don't hear any cymbals or a kick drum. On Jo Jo Gunne there's also a snare and hi-hat, by the way."
Posted by Dietmar Rudolph in Chuck Berry Recordings at 10:50 | Add Comment | Contact Webmaster
Saturday, April 6. 2019
Chuck Berry Live At The BBC 1972
[This blog post was originally written in Feb 2017. A recent email conversation forces me to add some notes to the end.]
In June of 1972 the British Broadcasting Corporation BBC recorded an 80 minute Chuck Berry concert at the BBC Television Theatre in London. This recording is one of the best Berry performances ever shown on TV. But unfortunately it wasn't available for us to watch again.
The original recording was broadcast edited down to 45 minutes. The audio track of this abbreviated show was saved and made it to a Vinyl bootleg called "Six Two Five". For more about this record, see here.
In the early 2000s the BBC show was re-transmitted by other TV stations, though now as a 60 minute show with additional songs. Thus we knew there must still exist the original full recording from 1972.
Recently we found a DVD on eBay which claimed to contain the complete show. We checked - and yes: This is the original uncut 80 minutes recording of the 1972 show at excellent video and sound quality, obviously directly from the BBC archives.
Live at the BBC (ZitRock ZR-DVD-CHB-16-03, US, 2016) contains all the songs which we know from the Six Two Five album. In addition there's School Day, Too Much Monkey Business, Rock and Roll Music, and Promised Land. With Reelin' and Rockin' and My Ding-A-Ling it's not hard to tell why these two songs were omitted from the original BBC broadcast as both are the raunchy versions very similar to the ones recorded four months earlier at the Lanchester Arts Festival. Maybe the BBC would have decided differently if they would have known that both raunchy versions would hit the charts at year's end.
While video tape copies of the various international broadcast have been known before, this DVD is of much better quality. And for the first time it contains the instrumental Liverpool Drive of which we didn't have any video recording before.
We have added this DVD as an "other notable release" to our Chuck Berry database meaning it's not a record or CD, but contains additional tracks from the same session as the corresponding record or CD. The full session is now at this session page of the Chuck Berry Database.
[added Apr 2019:]
The DVD has been created by ZitRock, though not for commercial sale. The creator of the DVD contacted me in March 2019 to explain the origins of this DVD. Many thanks!
The video has been published first on YouTube in April 2016. It's still there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtrOr3WKmyY. The original poster at YouTube didn't tell anything about the origin of the video, though. ZitRock, an expert on Rolling Stones DVDs, took this video and enhanced/remastered the audio track. The DVD was made available for download from the net. It seems that someone took ZitRock's files to burn and sell the DVD on eBay.
Posted by Dietmar Rudolph in Chuck Berry Recordings at 18:24 | Add Comment | Contact Webmaster
Tuesday, February 19. 2019
Chuck Berry's Birthday Album Edits
[This blog entry first appeared in January 2016. Recent research by reader James revealed some additional facts. These are included in italics below.]
Along with Taylor Hackford's 1986 documentary film celebrating Chuck Berry's 60th birthday MCA released a soundtrack album called Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll (MCA LP 6217). It has been known that the contents of the soundtrack album is edited against the original recordings made during the two shows filmed for the movie. It has not been known exactly what kind of edits were done during this post-processing, though. However, given the huge resource of professional and private audience recordings, finding out the edits is possible. It's just a tremendous task.
During many weeks reader and fellow researcher Claude Schlouch [in 2015] listened to and compared the various recordings over and over again. [Additional research was done by reader James in 2019.] Here are the results:
Many thanks to Claude [and James] for all the work spent and for sharing his results with us. I have edited the section of the main site which covers the birthday concerts accordingly.
Posted by Dietmar Rudolph in Chuck Berry Recordings at 14:05 | Add Comment | Contact Webmaster
Thursday, July 5. 2018
Chuck Berry's Recording Session for Volkswagen
Ridinâ along in my automobile, my baby beside me at the wheel
Remembering this line from Chuck Berryâs 1964 hit âNo particular place to goâ, copywriter Steve Landsberg and art director Gary Goldsmith of Doyle Dane Bernbach, Inc. (DDB) had the idea for an automobile advertising TV spot. So for the 1985 Volkswagen campaign they modified the text a little bit and produced the TV spot for VWâs GTI car showing the GTI riding the country with no particular place to go.
When I researched Chuck Berryâs contribution to the 1977 Dr Pepper advertising campaign (see the previous blog post), I ran into a March 2017 article by Steve Landsberg posted in the AgencySpy blog on the Adweek Network website: âThe Day I Spent Making an Ad With the Late, Great Chuck Berryâ (https://www.adweek.com/agencyspy/the-day-i-spent-making-an-ad-with-the-late-great-chuck-berry/128720)
Here we learn that Steve not only reused Berryâs 1964 recording but instead had him record a completely new version of his classic tune. I didnât know this. And my friends here didnât either.
So I started researching more about this rare recording. Steve and especially that time's DDB account representative Charlie Zollo have been very helpful with Steve telling even more than his story and Charlie providing a great collection of old documents from his files. Many thanks to both!
Steve even sent me a copy of the 1985 TV spot. Concurrently Anne Chanu found a poor copy of the spot on YouTube. Therefore all of you can go back in time and hear Berry perform this otherwise unreleased studio recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjSJHV2RfQU
Given Charlieâs and Steveâs additional information, Steveâs original article for Adweek needs some corrections and additions. Both Steve and Adweek allowed me to provide you here with an updated version of Steveâs story.
But let's first remember Charlie Zollo how difficult it was to have Chuck Berry sign the contract:
While we can't say how much, I was prepared with a "suitcase full of cash" as we fondly remember (actually a large Cashiers Check) as an upfront incentive to sign the contract. I was dispatched by Carol, the DDB talent administrator (sorry Carol, but I forgot your last name), to Berry Park in Wentzville to negotiate the final contract after Chuck had fired his agent.This is Steve's story about the recording session in Berry Park, with some embedded comments:
It was January 1985. [Editorâs note: According to Charlie's documents, the recording session told here happened in September 1984.] I [Steve Landsberg] was a copywriter at DDB. My art director Gary Goldsmith and I got thrown into a creative gangbang for the VW GTI. The brief was simple: position the GTI as fun to drive.What a great story â and how nicely told. Thanks for sharing, Steve!
An additional comment from Charlie Zollo:
âFor all of us who were involved, it was one of those once in a lifetime experiences weâll never forget. While we all had our own personal experiences, my favorite (which I tell often) was sitting outside of the control room, on the floor against a wall in the room where Chuck and his band were rehearsing. So there I was 10 feet away, as they jammed during the equipment down time, listening to them jam Roll Over Beethoven and other riffs. Listening to Berry during the breaks was, for me, more exciting than seeing any live concert by any rock group.âDefinitely it was, Charlie!
Charlie sent me the copy of an 1985 article by Aliza Laufer from Backstage magazine in which John Hill adds some details:
Hill was the music producer on the entire Volkswagen 1984/85 campaign, having written and produced all and arranged about half of the 20-spot package. According to Hill, the 1984/85 Volkswagen campaign is the biggest introductory budget in VWâs 30-year history.The last sentence means that in contrast to other commercials where the sound follows the pictures, here Steve, Charlie and their team had to film and cut outdoor segments so that they fit to Berryâs singing. Remembering the filming Steve told me:
The commercial was shot in Scotland because Los Angeles was going through a drought and looked too dry. Nothing was green. The area of Scotland we used looked very much like Americaâs lush Â heartland.Other than the music, you only hear a voice-over at the end of the spot. Steve remembers:
The announcer was the late Roy Scheider [Editorâs note: known from Jaws and other popular movies], who was the official voice of VW back then. I covered the recording myself in LA. He was a very kind man. He smoked and drank coffee to get that deep voice of this ready.According to Charlieâs old files, the VW GTI spot premiered on March 1st, 1985 on MTV.
In addition to the TV spot, Charlie remembers that the same track was also used for a Volkswagen radio spot.
Since Berry's deal was for TV only, we paid him another large amount to use the recording for radio as well. Part of the payment was a new GTI, that he picked up at a local Missouri dealer. My secretary (in the days when we had secretaries) would call out "Charlie, Chuck Berry is on the phone" as we were arranging the personal appearance of Chuck picking up his GTI. There was press coverage as I recall, but none that I have a copy of. All in all, use royalties included, he did very well for a few hours recording time. I think we paid him for his studio also.Does one of our readers have a copy of the radio spot or of the press article showing Berry getting his Volkswagen?
The gold-colored souvenir matchbook Steve Landsberg got from Chuck Berry is also known to exist in black with golden print. Hereâs a photo from Morten Reffâs collection:
Thanks to Steve, Charlie, and Morten for their help with this article bringing to our attention a Chuck Berry studio recording never released on record or CD.
Posted by Dietmar Rudolph in Chuck Berry Recordings at 12:21 | Comments (0) | Add Comment | Contact Webmaster
Saturday, June 9. 2018
Chuck Berry's Recording Session for Dr Pepper
Of the various promotional records containing radio spots which Chuck Berry recorded for companies and associations, one stands apart. For the 1977 campaign promoting the Dr Pepper soft drink, Berry did not only provide an interview or a spoken advertisement. Here Berry and his guitar provide a full Rock and Roll version of that campaignâs advertising song.
Quite recently, a video was uploaded to YouTube showing the recording of the song and the corresponding interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgJfpexPfEc. Thanks to Anne Chanu for finding it!
The video is interesting, but even more interesting is a note in the video description which points to a book written by Susan Hamilton who was the producer of the Dr Pepper spots and also of this Chuck Berry song. I bought and read the book, which is called âHit Womanâ. So should you. Itâs an interesting and funny read about a segment of the music industry you usually donât hear much about.
Susan Hamilton was the owner of HEA Production in New York, one of the top advertising music production companies (also known as a âjingle houseâ) in the US. You can read a short bio at susanhamilton.com, but you better read the full book.
Video and book made me write this blog post about one of the rarest Chuck Berry records ever.
It all started when the Dr Pepper company and their advertising agency Young & Rubicam came up with a new campaign called âThe Most Original Soft Drinkâ. Itâs not quite clear when, but it must have been in late 1973, early 1974 when HEA Productions was contracted to create the music for this campaign. Through HEA founder Herman Edel and NY attorney Lee Eastman, HEA hired Eastmanâs son-in-law to write the song: Paul McCartney.
Susan Hamilton recalls meeting Paul and Linda McCartney in Los Angeles to discuss the project with the client and agency. To everyoneâs surprise McCartney was not interested at all in learning about the planned campaign. Instead he told them that he had already written the song needed and played a cassette with a demo recording.
This song was simply done; it was classic McCartney; it had a great hook, but it had absolutely nothing to do with our campaign. There was no relevance to all of the spots that have been tailored for the campaign â the precious campaign that had been worked on for months and (more importantly) sold to the client.McCartney refused to come up with something else and so Susan Hamilton was left finding a different composer within very short time. Through Tim Newman who worked for Young & Rubicam she got into contact with his cousin who agreed to write the jingle. The new composer was famous singer-songwriter Randy Newman who came up with the melody and lyrics for âThe Most Original Soft Drink Everâ.
Fellow singer-songwriter Jake Holmes rewrote the verse lyrics and the song was used for the 1975 Dr Pepper campaign and the following ones until 1977. (Sheet music for this song as below is currently available as ebay item 253525494577.)
For the radio spots, Susan Hamilton recorded the same song in various musical styles using a number of well-known artists. All these recordings were made over a few months in the fall of 1974.
A first set of recordings was used for the initial 1975 campaign. These were from bluegrass star Doc Watson, blues legend Muddy Waters, jazz pianist Eubie Blake, singer Anita OâDay and banjo player Grandpa Jones. A (December?) 1974 promotional album (Dr Pepper DP-1274) contains these recordings and other spots for the campaign. Susan recalls:
The Muddy Waters session for Dr Pepper was recorded in Chicago at Chess Records Studio, and it was a nightmare. The studio was in disrepair. When mixing the spots, we found the harmonica and the electric bass on the same track. Worse yet, Muddy and the band hadnât a clue how to handle Randy Newmanâs charming, chromatic shuffle tune. I had to somehow wrangle it into a 12/8 blues song. It took a while âŠFurther recordings seem to have stayed in the can and were used for a later campaign in 1977. Artists selected then were Teresa Brewer, Hank Snow, B. B. King, the Mills Brothers, Lynn Anderson, and Chuck Berry. Again each performed the Newman/Holmes tune according to their specific style.
According to Susan Hamilton, she recorded Chuck Berry probably in October 1974, just before they flew to Chicago to record Muddy Waters.
The standard procedure was to record the base track in HEAâs own studio in Manhattan using a fixed set of very capable (and musically flexible) studio musicians. Susan Hamilton and her team then went to the featured artist and recorded solos and voice over the prerecorded track. Unusual for radio spots, but a film crew joined them in every studio to create a video of the recording and an interview with the artist. This is why we can see today how Berry performed the tune. The film was used only for promoting the artists and the campaign to Dr Pepper partners such as dealers or bottlers.
These partners were also the only recipients for the corresponding Dr Pepper promotional record given out at the kick-off convention. Very few of these promotional records seem to have survived. Even discogs.com misses it. Thus before we continue to learn about the crazy creation of this recording, letâs have a more detailed look at the beautiful record which this site's Morten Reff discovered in June 2012.
âThe Sights and Sounds of Dr Pepper â77â (DP-76 in dead wax) comes in a gatefold cover:
Besides a 12â LP there are two booklets, a red one for the Regular Dr Pepper campaign, a blue one for the Sugar Free Dr Pepper campaign.
Likewise the LP has a red and a blue label. The contents can be seen in the two scans. Basically the red side contains the 60-second radio spots and the soundtracks of the TV spots, while the blue side has the soundtracks for the little films containing the interviews and session footage. The Chuck Berry radio spot is at the beginning of the red side, the interview (followed by a count-in and the same song recording) is at the beginning of the blue side.
The 16-page red booklet and the 12-page blue booklet each contain descriptions and photos of the TV spots, photos and some detail about the artists contracted for the radio spots plus separate reproductions of the outdoor advertisements.
This is the segment about Chuck Berry which also includes photos taken from the film as shot during the recording session. All looks so perfect and in harmony.
And this is in total contrast to what Susan Hamilton writes about this recording. Chapter 28 is only seven pages long, but itâs well worth buying the book just for this story.
It all started when Hamilton, engineer Scheiner and HEA salesman Drayton flew to St. Louis with the agencyâs Dennis Powers as well as cameraman Jim Desmond and his sound guy. The flight was late so they arrived close to midnight and tired. At the airport they were refused to get their rental cars until Chuck had a talk with the agent. Next they couldnât sleep in a comfortable hotel in St. Louis but had to follow Berry for an hour by car to get to Berry Mansion, Summer Camp for Inner City Children â a dark, unlit wasteland of broken glass and cracked asphalt with no coffee, no showers, no food.
In the morning they drove back to a broken-down studio of Berryâs in downtown St. Louis (not the Berry Park studios, seemingly), only to learn that Berry requested another $5000 for the recording. Susan Hamilton managed to get the approval from the agency and was forced to write a, in her mind non-binding anyway, contract on the back of empty envelopes. Finally they recorded the overdubs onto the track they brought with them.
We got a bunch of takes and in a very short time. I knew I had plenty of material to be able to compile a great performance. Of course it was a little difficult to judge because we didnât get to hear some of our previously recorded instruments. They just wouldnât play from the 24 track machine through the broken faders. Oh well. We just imagined them.When the team was packing up in the afternoon, Berry demanded his money. He wanted the extra $5000, now and in cash. âYouâre not leaving here until I get it. The tape is not leaving here, and your people ainât leaving here, neither,â Berry said and locked people and tape in a back room. It was late on a Friday in St. Louis and Susan Hamilton had no chance to contact the New York agency nor the client.
I picked up the phone and dialed my office. God was merciful, and someone was there. I had them wire the money out of our account to the Western Union facility in downtown St. Louis. I told them it was ransom money. I was serious.Eventually the money arrived, Susan got tape and people out of the back room after counting it out into Chuckâs hands. To top it, Berry forced them to go out with him for some soul food in one of the scariest parts of the town.
The whole two-day Chuck experience was both hilarious and terrifying, as you can imagine â felt like I was in some dark comedy of a movie!Given this story, itâs no wonder we should be very suspicious watching the session footage on YouTube. The film shows Berry accompanied by session musicians on drums, bass, piano and sax. Look carefully and you will not find a single image where you see Berry together with one of the musicians. You canât, because Susan Hamilton recorded Berry in St. Louis alone without a band. The prerecorded track had been made in New York already.
I asked Susan if she can identify the session men from the video. She says that any shots in the film of musicians other than Chuck were added for creative interest by the film crew. These were not the original session men. Itâs fairly easy to see at the end where the film shows a sax player. There is no sax on the whole recording.
Asked whether she remembers the original musicians, Susan tells that she can only guess. So despite the nice Dr Pepper video we are left with the unknownâs in our database.
All quotes from Susan Hamilton have been taken from her excellent book âHit Womanâ (Hitwoman Publishing, 2013) and from emails in which Susan was so kind to answer my additional questions. Many thanks!
Posted by Dietmar Rudolph in Chuck Berry Recordings at 18:02 | Comments (0) | Add Comment | Contact Webmaster
Wednesday, April 25. 2018
Two new CDs containing old live recordings
I have no idea who the people are which release CDs under the ROUGH label name, but I'm sure they read this blog and site regularly. Just a few weeks after we finally managed to solve the mysteries about Berry's 1981 live recordings, ROUGH releases a CD containing the complete show.
The CD is called Live! Wolf & Rissmiller's Country Club - 1981 and seems to be available only on ebay. This time the ROUGH CD got a catalog number (40147), though interestingly the same product code as the previous one which contained live recordings from Seattle and Waterloo.
Of course the ROUGH people did not find the original Norman Pattiz recordings. They just combined what was found on Youtube and on previously released CDs and LPs. So here we find the twelve tracks from the first set as they were broadcast on radio plus the one track from the second set which made it to the Westwood One Radio album.
To fill the CD, ROUGH added some live recordings from other shows. Here we get three songs from the 1982 show at the Roxy which are well known from many other releases. Plus we get three songs from a French TV show 1965. These tracks have been available on video before, e.g. on Youtube or at L'Institut national de l'audiovisuel (Ina.fr). The show was recorded for the French TV series Music-Hall de France on November 4th, 1965 in Montrouge near Paris. As this is the first audio release of this recording, we have added it as a session to our database.
Concurrently to ROUGH 40147 they also released a second CD again containing known but rare Berry live recordings in high quality. ROUGH 40148 is called Saturday Rock - Live at the BBC '72.
As you can read from the title, again we know these recordings well. The Sounds for Saturday show has been released on multiple albums before, most notably the Six Two Five vinyl bootleg.
In contrast to the previous releases, the ROUGH CD contains the full show recording as it had been made available on a DVD last year. Also from a DVD are the two bonus track recorded for the Radio Bremen TV show five days before the BBC concert.
Again this CD is offered on ebay only so far.
Posted by Dietmar Rudolph in Chuck Berry Recordings at 12:13 | Add Comment | Contact Webmaster
Saturday, March 17. 2018
Chuck Berry's Chess Albums - How they could have been
Arian Collins is a Chuck Berry fan like us. He recently wondered about the strange release strategy Chess showed with the first ten years in Berry's carrier. Songs were left on the shelf, placed on albums years after recorded or even released as singles only.
Thus Arian imagined how Berry's early albums would have looked like if Chess did release all recordings in time.
On his blog "Albums Back from the Dead - Recreating albums that never actually existed" Arian shows us Berry's Chess albums he imagined, including track listings which follow the recording dates and imaginary covers.
Look, read and enjoy
Chuck Berry 1955-59: https://albumsbackfromthedead.blogspot.com/2018/02/chuck-berry-discography-1956-59.html
Chuck Berry 1960-66: https://albumsbackfromthedead.blogspot.com/2018/03/chuck-berry-discography-1960-66.html
Posted by Dietmar Rudolph in Chuck Berry Recordings at 17:31 | Comments (0) | Add Comment | Contact Webmaster
Monday, February 26. 2018
Where have we heard this interview before?
This site's section on Radio Show and Promotional Records has a description of the most interesting Chuck Berry records which were not available for public sale. This includes the so-called Radio Show albums which are LPs (later CDs) containing pre-produced radio shows to be broadcast by radio stations nation-wide. Some of these albums contain interviews or even music not available anywhere else.
I recently received another of these radio albums containing five segments of 5 to 7 minutes each to be broadcast as House of Blues Breaks on CBS stations. The segment for Thursday, 21 April 1994 concentrates on Louis Jordan but holds an interview segment by Chuck Berry related to Jordan.
They say that's a Chuck Berry song because it goes 'da-da-bi-da-bi-da-bi-du-a-da-bi-du-a'. Well, the first time I heard that was one of Carl Hogan's riffs in Louis Jordan's band. We have T-Bone Walker - I love T-Bone Walker and his blues. So you put a little Carl Hogan, a little T-Bone Walker, and a little Charlie Christian, the guitarist in Tommy Dorsey's band, together. Look what a span of people that you will please. And that's what I did in Johnny B. Goode, in Roll Over Beethoven. And making it simple is an important fact, I think, that resulted in a lot of the artists understanding, being able to play my music. If you can call it my music. But there's nothing new under the sun.
This does sound very well-known. We have heard Berry tell this in multiple interviews before. However, I checked the remaining radio station albums and did not find this specific segment. Do you remember where we have heard this specific interview segment before? Let me know.
Posted by Dietmar Rudolph in Chuck Berry Recordings at 15:06 | Comment (1) | Add Comment | Contact Webmaster
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This weblog is an addition to my Chuck Berry fansite called "A Collector's Guide to the Music of Chuck Berry" which describes all books and records of interest to everyone enjoying Chuck Berry's music.
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