Dancing with Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry, known as the Father of Rock ‘n Roll, had a connection to my family that I couldn’t believe. My wife used to tell me of how her mother ran away from home finding herself in Nashville, Tennessee where she met Chuck Berry and had an extended relationship with him. She would fondly talk of Chuck holding her in his lap but had no picture to prove it.
For a long time, I did not believe her. It seemed like just a good story brought out to impress. She continued to stick to her guns until one day, the Father of Rock ‘n Roll came to our town for a concert. My wife, of course, insisted that we get tickets. I couldn’t say no. A chance to see him could not be missed. I had seen many of the other greats, but Chuck Berry was one I had not the opportunity to see. Little did I know what was going to happen at the concert.
In the days before the concert, my wife became more and more excited. She could not wait for the day to come. When at last it did, I was surprised to find that this woman who I always had to wait to get ready when we went somewhere, picked out her outfit and had it on long before we were to leave.
We arrived early to a venue that was already packed. Our seats were some of the best in the house, just two rows back from the stage. It seemed an age before the main attraction took the stage, but it was well worth the wait. He put on a show like few could. The only complaint we could muster was that the proprietor of the venue served drinks that were not only expensive but watered down to boot. I am sure Chuck would not have liked it that the drinks were weak.
The concert went on with some people getting out of their seats to dance in the aisles. It was hard not to get up and dance to Chuck’s invigorating guitar work. Even at his advanced age, he was able to bounce down in the splits position while playing his guitar, a move he was famous for. At the end of one song, Chuck announced that he was going to invite some to dance on the stage with him. He pointed out several people and then he looked in our direction. My wife nearly fainted with excitement! But he pointed out the couple sitting in front of us. This brought massive distress to my wife, but she did not give up. When the couple in front of us hesitated, she grabbed my arm and dragged me into the aisle. The chosen couple relaxed. I think they were a little shy, something my wife clearly was not.
In a flash I found myself onstage. Chuck Berry was just a couple of feet from me playing like crazy. We were all dancing wildly as he cranked out the riffs on his instrument. I found myself being edged closer and closer to Chuck as my wife danced toward him until she was looking directly into his face. He looked right into her eyes as she smiled and pointed to her face with her left hand. His expression turned from smiles to puzzled as if he had no idea what she was getting at. But this lady had come totally prepared for this. With her right hand she held a picture of her taken the year her mom met him next to her head. When she did this, he lit up in mega surprise. It was obvious that there was a connection. I now had direct proof that what my wife had been telling me was the unvarnished truth. I was amazed. Chuck Berry amazed me as well for during this whole episode he kept on playing and did not miss a note though he was clearly deeply affected by this meeting.
The number ended and we all were herded off the stage. It was his last song for the night. Not only were we rushed off the stage, he was as well. When my wife tried to get backstage to see him after the show, she was told that he was already on his way to the airport. He had done an afternoon show for us and had to be in San Francisco for a later show. We were disappointed, but the concert had been enjoyable, and I had undeniable proof that what my wife had been telling me all along was a true story.
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