Entertainment One has confirmed it will be releasing Chuck Berry's first album of new material in 38 years.
Unstated is that it is likely his final one as the guy who wrote the rock & roll playbook turned 90 on October 2.
Dualtone Records, an Entertainment One company, said the album, titled Chuck, will include mostly new, original songs. Written, recorded and produced in various studios around his hometown of St. Louis, MO, it features a back-up band that has supported Berry at more than 200 shows over two decades at the Blueberry Hill club in the city. They include his children Charles Berry Jr. on guitar and Ingrid Berry on harmonica, along with pianist Robert Lohr, drummer Keith Robinson and long-time bassist Jimmy Marsala.
“This record is dedicated to my beloved Toddy,” said Berry in a statement, referring to his wife of 68 years, Themetta Berry. “My darlin’ I’m growing old! I’ve worked on this record for a long time. Now I can hang up my shoes!”
Charles Berry Jr. said the songs “cover the spectrum, from hard driving rockers to soulful thought provoking time capsules of a life's work.”
An exact date for the release has not yet been announced.
Charles "Chuck" Edward Anderson Berry's catalogue includes such songs as "Maybellene," "Roll Over Beethoven," "School Day (Ring! Ring! Goes the Bell)," "Rock and Roll Music," "Sweet Little Sixteen," "Johnny B. Goode," "Back in the U.S.A.," "No Particular Place to Go" and "Carol," but none of those records ever topped the charts.
"Sweet Little Sixteen" came closest, peaking at 2 and "School Day" went to 3 on the American hit parade but it wouldn't be until 1972 that Berry would score his first and only No. 1 with a juvenile novelty record dripping in innuendo.
"My Ding-a-Ling" was written by Dave Bartholomew, a prominent New Orleans bandleader, composer, arranger and record producer who frequently collaborated with Fats Domino. Bartholomew recorded the song in January 1952 and had it covered by other artists under various names, but it didn't become popular until twenty years later when Berry included it on his live album The Chuck Berry Sessions.
As is his style, Berry altered the arrangement and verses in order to earn a songwriter credit. He would later acknowledged the song's actual author.
His last known performance at the Blueberry Hill was five years ago where, according to ex Records On Wheels co-founder Vito Ierullo, Berry was not in the best of shape and was helped through his set by visting Johnny Rivers who, Ierullo says, carried the show. Ierullo has met with the singer on numerous occassions, and seen him at the club a half-dozen times. Apart from high respect for the living legend, he had been working on a biopic about Berry's rise to fame and complicated life that put him in jail at least three times. The project for now is on hold.
According to some sources, Berry's net worth is as much as $50M.
-- Various sources