The Tonight Show

Close encounters with Chuck Berry, as a fan, musician and journalist

Close encounters with Chuck Berry, as a fan, musician and journalist

“Chuck Berry doesn’t give interviews.”

My first encounter with Berry didn’t go so well. In four decades as a music journalist, I’ve seen Berry many times — concerts that ran the gamut from pedestrian to thrilling.

Along the way, I also had three direct encounters with one of the original architects of rock ’n’ roll — as a fan, as a fellow musician and as a pop music writer.

Taken in combination, these encounters ultimately inspired sympathy for the slings and arrows he’d suffered through his life, helping offset the initial disappointment I felt as a fan at his frostiness.

Yet later, these few brushes with fame made it that much more rewarding to score a few...

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