Most folks dream of retiring at 65, ideally with a pension plan and/or a savings account that keeps them from ever having to work again. Yet when your work is your livelihood, it’s quite a different story. Rock and roll doesn’t retire, and rock legend Chuck Berry is proving that today. After a 38-year recording hiatus, Berry just announced his newest album, simply titled, CHUCK. And on his 90th birthday, no less.
Berry travelled all over St. Louis recording and, in keeping with tradition, playing with the hometown backing band that has joined him for more than 200 residency shows at Blueberry Hill over the past two decades. The band features Berry’s children, Charles Berry Jr. (guitar) and Ingrid Berry (harmonica), as well as Jimmy Marsala (Berry’s bassist for forty years), Robert Lohr (piano), and Keith Robinson (drums).
The family connection doesn’t end with the lineup, as Berry also dedicated the album to his wife of 68 years, Themetta Berry. “My darlin’ I’m growing old,” Berry said in a statement. “I’ve worked on this record for a long time. Now I can hang up my shoes!”
“What an honor to be part of this new music. The St. Louis Band, or as dad called us ‘The Blueberry Hill Band,’ fell right into the groove and followed his lead,” says Charles Berry Jr. “These songs cover the spectrum from hard driving rockers to soulful thought provoking time capsules of a life’s work.”
The incredible legacy of the now 90-year-old hardly needs to be defended, but in honor of Berry’s lifetime of achievements it seems worth mentioning some of his most notable recognitions, such as his Grammy for Lifetime Achievement. As Rolling Stone once noted, he laid “the groundwork for not only a rock and roll sound but a rock and roll stance.” His signature hit, “Johnny B. Goode,” has the conspicuous honor of being the only rock and roll track featured on the Voyager Golden Record, a recording that was launched into space in 1977 in hopes of introducing extraterrestrials to earth’s life and culture. Berry was among the first people ever to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the first person to win a PEN Award for literary excellence in lyric writing. Further cementing his lasting impact on our culture, his ’73 Cadillac Eldorado went on display as a permanent fixture in the Smithsonian’s brand new National Museum of African American Culture and History.