ST. LOUIS (October 20, 2006) — Bill Clinton wasn’t among the standing-room-only crowd at Chuck Berry’s 80th birthday celebration, but the former president sent birthday greetings to the rock ‘n’ roll pioneer.
“I’ve loved your music for nearly half a century,” Clinton wrote in a letter read aloud before Berry came on stage at Blueberry Hill nightclub Wednesday night.
“Our lives are richer, our music more memorable, and our artistic legacy greater because of you, and I’m glad to have this opportunity to salute you for truly being an American treasure.”
Berry, the duck-walking, guitar-playing rock legend who defined the music’s joy and rebellion in such classics as “Johnny B. Goode,” “Sweet Little Sixteen” and “Roll Over Beethoven,” performed tirelessly for over an hour at the venue where he has given concerts one night a month for the last 10 years.
Berry moved the crowd to its feet with his classic “duck walk,” a stage move he patented in a 1956 performance in New York that’s been imitated by rockers ever since.
Berry’s band included his daughter Ingrid on harmonica, and his son Charles Edwards Berry Jr. on guitar. Back-up musicians who have performed with him over the decades took their turns playing with him on stage.
In a surprise appearance, Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry also joined Berry on stage.