clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

YouTube Gold: Chuck Berry In Belgium

An amazing show by Chuck Berry from 1965

“Go Johnny Go” Film Still
Chuck Berry

In 1965, Chuck Berry had largely been pushed aside for the British Invasion as bands like The Rolling Stones, the Kinks and most of all the Beatles dominated the charts.

But he was just a youthful 39 and it was just 10 years after his first hit, Maybellene, charted and he had plenty left in the tank. In fact some of his most compelling work would come years after his brilliant kick-start of rock n roll in the mid 50’s.

In this show from Belgium, in 1965, Berry was in rare form. His showmanship was superb, his playfulness with language and the audience was tremendous, and the attendees were polite and respectful, unlike a lot of rock n roll shows.

Despite his playful persona, Berry’s dark side was never far away. He was by all accounts not an easy man. He had serious legal issues in his life, having been convicted of armed robbery and stealing a car when he was still a teenager. He also spent time in jail over a violation of the Mann Act which involved a 14-year-old (Berry always denied the charges). He was later accused of assault and, in a civil case, of videotaping women in a bathroom (he settled out of court).

On stage though he had immense energy and charisma and changed music, in America and globally. His lyrics are like nothing else in music and he clearly valued language and recognized that his voice, whether speaking or singing, was a great gift that would not be denied.