Rock n’ roll pioneer Chuck Berry, who turned 90 on Tuesday, celebrated his birthday by announcing that his new LP Chuck, the guitarist’s first LP in 38 years, will arrive in 2017 on Dualtone Records.
Chuck, Berry’s first album since 1979’s Rock It, is stocked with new, original songs written, recorded and produced by the rock legend. Berry dedicated his upcoming album to his wife of 68 years, Themetta Berry. “This record is dedicated to my beloved Toddy,” Berry said in a statement. “My darlin’, I’m growing old! I’ve worked on this record for a long time. Now I can hang up my shoes!”
Berry recorded Chuck with his longtime backing band that includes his children Charles Berry Jr. (guitar) and Ingrid Berry (harmonica), as well as bassist Jimmy Marsala, who has played with Berry for 40 years, pianist Robert Lohr and drummer Keith Robinson. This backing band has performed alongside Berry at the rock legend’s famed Blueberry Club shows over the past two decades.
“What an honor to be part of this new music,” Charles Berry Jr. said in a statement. “The St. Louis band, or as dad called us ‘the Blueberry Hill Band,’ fell right into the groove and followed his lead. These songs cover the spectrum from hard driving rockers to soulful thought provoking time capsules of a life’s work.”
Chuck Berry wrote a handful of the most famous hits in rock & roll history. But have you ever heard the disco version of “Havana Moon” he put out in 1979? German label Bear Family has set out to honor every twist and weird turn in Berry’s career with a 16-CD, 21-hour box set, Chuck Berry: The Complete Studio Recordings . . . Plus!, which compiles everything he recorded – from his first session, in 1954, to his obscure final LP, 1979’s home-recorded Rockit. The set explores all of his lesser-known musical incarnations: big-band frontman, country crooner, psychedelic journeyman. You can hear a demo of him working out the melody and riff to “Sweet Little Sixteen,” and a jam with Bo Diddley on 1964’s “Bo’s Beat.” It also has five discs of live material, a 250-page book with a foreword by Paul McCartney, and artwork from nearly every 45 Berry released around the world. Bear Family founder Richard Weize used a network of hardcore collectors for the project. “Universal [Records] did three Chuck Berry sets recently, but ours is 10 times better,” he says.