Today, The New York Times reported that rock and roll legend Chuck Berry died at the age of 90.
Thirty years ago, on the event of his 60th birthday, Chuck Berry agreed to perform at a pair of celebratory concerts alongside a band but together by Keith Richards and featuring Linda Ronstadt, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, Etta James, Johnnie Johnson, Julian Lennon, and other musicians. Director Taylor Hackford filmed the whole thing for a documentary that includes footage from both performances and rehearsals along with interviews about Berry’s influence from Bo Diddley, The Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Little Richard, and Bruce Springsteen.
The film also includes revealing segments with Berry himself, usually discussing money and his desire to make more of it. According to Hackford, every day of shooting involved literally bribing Berry to appear on camera in his own movie. Berry was an notoriously difficult man, but, in this movie, it’s the music that matters. And the performances are pretty great.
Hail! Hail! Rock ‘N’ Roll was released as both a movie and a concert CD.