'Hail! Hail! Rock n' Roll' Honors Chuck Berry

Keith Richards, Etta James and others celebrate the father of rock & roll in Los Angeles

Chuck Berry performs onstage with Keith Richards at the Chicago Blues Festival in Chicago, Illinois in 1986.
James Fraher/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
November 19, 1987

"I'm flattered, I'm weak in the knees, and I'm hungry," said Chuck Berry at the premiere of Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll on what was officially Chuck Berry Day in Los Angeles. Hours earlier, Berry got misty eyed when he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. "I was thinking about how many years had passed and how I was still here," he said later. At the postscreening party, the sixty-year-old rocker jumped up onstage with the band and played "Roll Over Beethoven."

"Nobody feels they're as good as Chuck Berry," said Brian Setter. Luther Vandross said, "I don't move that much now, and I'm thirty-six." Wolfman Jack stated simply, "He's the father of rock & roll." And what does that make Little Richard? "I'm the originator and the emancipator," he cried, then added softly, "I'm just glad he got his dues while he's still alive." Also on hand was rhythm & blues great Etta James, who appears in the documentary. Berry said his favorite part of the movie was "the scene where Keith Richards and I get it on," referring to a somewhat discordant rehearsal. "There were fireworks," said director Taylor Hackford. "Keith forced Chuck for the first time in twenty years to play like he hadn't played in a long time." Hackford added that he was interested in showing what it really took to mount the film's concert. "If it's sweetness and light, everyone kissing on the lips, it's not that interesting to me. These were two strong personalities. The pupil and the mentor, and in this case Keith was the leader of the band, and he put together a great band. Keith forced Chuck to rehearse, and he didn't like that. But there was a mutual respect."

The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time: Chuck Berry, by Keith Richards

What does Berry really think of Richards? "You'll never get anything out of him," growled the Stone, who appeared at the party with wife Patti Hansen on his arm. "Although he says he wants me to produce his next album." Onscreen, Richards says of Berry, "He's given me more headaches than Mick Jagger, but I still cannot dislike him." After the screening of the film, Richards said, "It was worth it."

This story is from the November 19, 1987 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Whoomp! (There It Is)”

Tag Team | 1993

Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

More Song Stories entries »