Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesIf it weren’t for Chuck Berry, there may never have been a Rolling Stones. After all, the story is often told that Keith Richards and Mick Jagger met and bonded on a train as teenagers because Keith noticed Mick carrying a Chuck Berry album. Now Richards is remembering the late rock and roll pioneer in a new interview with The Los Angeles Times.
Of Berry’s famous guitar intros, Keith tells the paper, “People don’t realize Chuck used his whole body to play that riff, he doesn’t just use his wrists. I’m still working on it.” And, says Keith, that tied into Berry’s whole performance style. “Everything was syncopated and synchronized to his body movements. We all know the duck walk — that’s the famous one, and it’s a good one too, ” he says. “But if you look at old footage of him…you see a sort of almost demonic power going on in that rhythm and his delivery of it.”
In the interview Keith remembers his time spent with Berry talking about songwriting, saying, “He was very interested in various kinds of music. He used country music…[and] he was a great admirer of Hank Williams. We used to sit around talking about country writers.”
Richards adds that he last saw Berry in 2012 when Berry was awarded PEN New England’s Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award. Remembers Keith, “Apparently, it was the first time they sort of acknowledged that songwriting could possibly be called literature.”
Chuck Berry died March 18 at the age of 90. The album he was working on at the time of his death, Chuck, his first new record since 1979, is due June 16.
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