Chuck Berry celebrated his 90th birthday on October 18 by announcing that he will release a new album – titled simply Chuck – in 2017 on Dualtone Records, an Entertainment One Company. Comprised primarily of new, original songs written, recorded, and produced by the founding rock & roll legend, Chuck is Berry’s first new album in 38 years.
Chuck was recorded in various studios around St. Louis and features Berry’s longtime hometown backing group, which includes his children Charles Berry Jr. (guitar) and Ingrid Berry (harmonica), plus Jimmy Marsala (Berry’s bassist of 40 years), Robert Lohr (piano), and Keith Robinson (drums). This collective has supported Berry for over 2 decades on over 200 residency shows at the famed Blueberry Hill club. More details about Chuck and other Berry-related events will be revealed in the coming weeks.
“This record is dedicated to my beloved Toddy,” Berry said, referring to his wife of 68 years, Themetta Berry. “My darlin’, I’m growing old! I’ve worked on this record for a long time. Now I can hang up my shoes!” (Well, hopefully he’s still got a few miles left in those rockin’ soles to share with us just yet…)
“What an honor to be part of this new music,” noted Charles Berry Jr. “The St. Louis band, or as dad called us, ‘The Blueberry Hill Band,’ fell right into the groove and followed his lead. These songs cover the spectrum from hard-driving rockers to soulful, thought-provoking time capsules of a life’s work.”
Dualtone president Paul Roper added, “It is a great honor to be a part of this record and the broader legacy of Chuck Berry. This body of work stands with the best of his career, and will further cement Chuck as one of the greatest icons of rock & roll.”
According to Rolling Stone, Berry “laid the groundwork for not only a rock & roll sound but a rock & roll stance.” Many of his compositions – “Maybellene,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Rock and Roll Music,” and so many others – have become the genre’s canonical texts. “Johnny B. Goode” is the only rock & roll song included on the Voyager Golden Record, launched into space in 1977, intended to represent life and culture on Earth to extraterrestrial beings.
Berry received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984, and was in the inaugural class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees in 1986. He was awarded a Kennedy Center Honor in 2000, placed #5 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All-Time in 2010, and was given the first-ever PEN Award for literary excellence in lyric writing in 2012.
More recently, he was the subject of a widely discussed essay by author Chuck Klosterman predicting that ,hundreds of years from now, Berry would be singularly synonymous with rock & roll itself. Last month, his classic 1973 red Cadillac Eldorado went on display as part of the permanent collection at the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American Culture and History.
Chuck Berry on the Web: