This week, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum has been honoring Chuck Berry as part of its 17th Annual American Music Masters series. The celebration wraps up Saturday night (October 27) with a concert paying tribute to the man, featuring a diverse cast of artists: Rick Derringer, Vernon Reid of Living Colour, country music legend Merle Haggard, David Johansen of The New York Dolls (formerly known as Buster Poindexter), metal icon Lemmy, indie rocker M. Ward, Ronnie Hawkins (leader of The Hawks, who later became The Band), bluesman Joe Bonamassa and DMC from Run-DMC.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Curatorial Director Howard Kramer tells CBS Local that the diverse lineup speaks to Berry’s enduring influence. “What do M. Ward and Ronnie Hawkins have in common, other than the fact that they are singers?”
But he says that getting younger artists on the bill is crucial to the Hall’s mission: “I was really thrilled when I heard that M. Ward signed up for this. He’s an artist from a different generation with a different audience. Chuck Berry is an important part of what (every artist on the bill) does.”
Motorhead’s Lemmy also brings a different audience, and one that may not always acknowledge the importance of the early rock and rollers like Berry and Little Richard, another Lemmy favorite. CBS Local spoke to Lemmy, who revealed what songs he’ll perform at the show: “I’m gonna do ‘Bye Bye Johnny’ and ‘Let It Rock.'”
He has a hard time voicing just how huge Berry’s impact was, but feels it’s important to turn on younger generations to it: “You can’t explain something like music, you either feel it or you don’t. The trouble is, you have to hear it before you can react to it, and you don’t hear it (too much), you know?” The Motorhead frontman lists his favorite Chuck Berry songs as “Bye Bye Johnny,” “Run Rudolph Run” (which he covered with Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters) and “Memphis, Tennessee.”
The concert will take place at the Playhouse Square Theater in Cleveland. Get more information on the show here.
— Brian Ives, CBS Local