Archive for the ‘Chuck Berry’ Category

Buxton Festival 1973

Buxton Festival 1973 Line-up: Chuck Berry; Canned Heat; Nazareth; Edgar Broughton Band; Sensational Alex Harvey Band; Medicine Head; Brewers Droop
Billed to play, but didn’t: Groundhogs; Roy Wood and Wizard
This was a pretty crazy event. The weather was miserable, but what really sticks in my mind is the Hells Angels who took control of the entire day and had us all in fear. I hitched there with my mate Gilly and arrived around lunchtime. This was a one day event with a pretty strong line-up. I was a big fan of the Groundhogs at the time, and went along largely to see Tony McPhee and the guys; sadly they didn’t play. When we arrived we found the festival which was right up on a cold moor, and the weather wasn’t great with wind and rain, and lots of mud throughout the day. A large group of Hells Angels had taken their place at the front of the crowd, bikes and all. They were all very drunk and stoned and got worse as the day went on. Every so often they would rev their bikes up and ride them through the crowd. How no-one was hurt, I don’t know. When they ran out of money for beer they came through the crowd asking for 10p from each of us. Almost everyone gave them something; we were all frightened not to. As the day went on they started to go up on stage and take control. John Peel was DJ for the event but at some point half way through the day a Hells Angel took over the mike and John left. A couple of the bands, Roy Wood and Groundhogs, arrived and saw what was going on, and left without playing. I was particularly disappointed that the Groundhogs didn’t play. Gilly and I had made a flag saying Groundhogs, which we were planning to wave during the set (that seems so sad now, but yes we really did do it). We threw the flag away in disgust when they didn’t play. All of the bands who did play were great. buxtonEdgar Broughton always gave value for money at such outdoor events, and that day was no exception. The Poppy was a favourite of mine at the time, and I remember him playing that song, in the white judo suit that he tended to wear at the time. Medicine Head were good: One and One is One was out then. Alex Harvey and his band started with the Osmonds’ Crazy Horses, which seemed a bizarre song choice for a rock band, but worked well. I also remember a great version of Del Shannon’s Runaway being another surprise that day. Alex jumped into the crowd at one point and faced up to a Hells Angel who was trying to beat up another guy, and stopped the violence. Alex had no fear; I had deep respect for the guy. Zal was crazy as ever and looked evil in his clown suit. Canned Heat gave us some great boogie, with Bob the Bear pumping away on his mouth harp. Nazareth were also excellent with Dan singing with a Hells Angel alongside him. By the time Chuck Berry took to the stage it was full of Angels, all dancing round him and trying to copy his duck walk. Chuck joked with them, and just got on with his set, he didn’t seem at all phased by what was going on. Chuck’s set was short, and he left to no encore and a hail of cans from the crowd. Brewer’s Droop came straight on and calmed the crowd down. We left in the early hours, as we didn’t fancy spending the night in the field with the Angels. We tried to walk to the main road, which was a long way. We got so far down a country road and were so tired that we lay down and slept on the steps of a house. When we awoke we were soaked and found ourselves lying in a puddle. We somehow managed to hitch home, getting back around Sunday evening. An experience never to repeated (thankfully). Having said that; reflecting on the event; I’m pleased I went. We saw some great bands and heard some amazing music that day. The ones that stick in my mind most are Edgar Broughton, and Alex Harvey, then Chuck Berry and Canned Heat. Great memories. 39 years is a long time ago.
Many thanks to Ian Johnson for sending me his photo of the event, which is of band Chopper, who I recall playing in 1974, and Ian is sure also played in 1973. What do others remember?

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Chuck Berry 1973 and 1977

Chuck Berry 1973 and 1977
Chuck Berry is of course, a legend and just keeps on going. I have been lucky enough to see him in concert four times (as far as I remember!), three times in the 70s and more recently at the Maryport Blues festival a few years ago. The first time I saw Chuck was at Newcastle City Hall in 1973. He had just returned to the charts with the fun (but pretty naff) My Ding-a-Ling which was recorded live during his 1972 UK tour at a show in Coventry. Chuck has never been one to play long shows, his concerts usually running to around one hour. However, he always manages to pack plenty of hits into that time and is a great show man, with his signature duck walk. Chuck toured the UK pretty regularly in those days, and the next time I saw him was at a gig at Sunderland Empire, in 1977. Once again he put on a short, but great show, with lots of teds dancing in the aisles. I also saw Chuck perform at the (infamous and very wet) 1973 Buxton festival. That gig was memorable because the Hells Angels were present in droves, and took charge of the festival. Several Hells Angels took to the stage during Chuck’s set and I remember him dancing with them. He seemed completely unphased by the situation, unlike several other bands on the bill who left without playing, as they were wary of the Angels.A typical 70s set list for Chuck Berry would be something like: Maybellene; Rock and Roll Music; School Days; Roll Over Beethoven; Nadine; No Particular Place to Go; Sweet Little Sixteen; My Ding-a-Ling; Reelin’ and Rockin’; Johnny B. Goode.

Chuck Berry Maryport Blues Festival

Chuck Berry

Maryport Blues Festival July 25 2008

Support Acts seen: Little Jenny & the Blue Beans and Alvin Youngblood Hart

So its a warm Friday night and I set off for the 100 mile drive to see Chuck Berry at the Maryport Blues Festival. Chuck Berry! The guy is 81 and still playing. I haven’t seen Chuck since the 70s at the Newcastle City Hall and Sunderland Empire. Another show I remember is the nightmare (but so bad it was good in its own way) Buxton 73 festival which was taken over by Hells Angels; Chuck ended up dancing with a crowd of Hells Angels on the stage. So lots of memories and a long long time since I’ve seen the guy play; looking forward to this one. I guess I am not expecting too much; it will be great just to see him again.

The drive over goes quite well. Get lost in Carlisle and stuck behind a tractor on the windy round to Maryport. It starts to pour down with rain just as I enter Maryport. The festival has moved site from the last time I was here a few years ago; its now by the Rugby Club rather than down at the harbour. The car park is a short walk from the site so I don’t get too wet. The main stage is a pretty big marquee; must hold quite a few thousand in there and its pretty full. I feel quite at home in this crowd; lots of old grey haired people round me; many of them sporting t-shirts from other blues festivals.

I catch two of the other acts on the bill who are pretty good. I have a chance to walk around the site; it has quite an impressive camp site with a lot of lovely camper vans (I make a mental note that it would be great to have a camper van and start going to festivals again!).

At aorund 10.30pm Chuck Berry and his band take the stage. The vocal mike doesn’t work for the first song; the crowd is shouting at Chuck and the band to attract their attention but they don’t seem to realise what is wrong. Anyway after the first song is finished the mike starts to work and a mighty cheer goes up from the crowd. Chuck is great. It is hard to believe that he is 81. His voice sounds good and very strong; his guitar is a little out of tune; but then as I rmember it ; it often was. He plays lots of the favourites, No Particular Place to go, Sweet Little Sixteen, etc (but no Johnny B Goode). We all sing along to My DIng a Ling. He has his son Charles playing guitar for him and his daughter is singing and playing mouth harp. She is pretty good and gets a great cheer. The last number sees Chuck inviting girls (and then boys) up on to the stage to dance with him. The stage is soon full and Chuck and the band are hidden behind a sea of dancers. And then its over. He has been on stage 1 hour (as expected) and it was much much better that I had hoped. People start to leave the marquee and the general feeling is that he was great and can still rock. Pleased I went to see the old guy again; a true legend. The drive home seems to fly over; I’m still thinking of Chuck. Get to bed aorund 2am. A good night and a nice festival.

Festival site: http://www.maryportblues.co.uk/

Chuck Berry site: http://www.chuckberry.com/

My ticket

My ticket

wristband for the main marquee

wristband for the main marquee

programme for the festival

programme for the festival