Other Players

Q & A with Chuck Berry’s son.

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I was honored to have a brief email exchange with Charles Berry II, just the other day. Here it is-

Charles, do you know whatever became of Chuck's Gibson 350ET from 1955-56? Was it stolen? Did Chuck have to give it up during a difficult period?

He has them both (yes both) to this day. The one with P-90's is tucked away and the one with the PAF's is on display at Blueberry Hill here in St. Louis.

Thank you!! Do you have ANY idea what a mystery that has been in the world of collector guitars? And all I had to do was ask... Did Chuck consider using them in the movie Hail! Hail! ?

I don't think he wanted to use either one of them. As I remember Keith Richards brought a 350T for my dad to play but dad went with the ES-355 instead. That same 350T became the guitar Eric Clapton used during his part of the show. Eric's work on Wee, Wee Hours made the ground shake.

He still has a few of the old original ES's but most of them literally wore out, had broken necks, got run over by a Cadillac (very true story), were destroyed in fires at Berry Park and one or two were traded in for newer ones. The one that really stands out as a real loss was his one and only Les Paul. It burned when the house caught fire at Berry Park in 1969. Some guy said he had it a couple of years ago but dad said that's impossible, it was fried.

He still plays the wine red 78 ES-355 he bought new here in St. Louis. That thing is beat to death and is missing parts (the tone knobs) however, it has a tone that is the closest match to the 58 - early 60's models with PAF's I have ever heard in my life. He's played other guitars off and on over the past 31 years, but the guitar that defines his sound since 78 is that particular 355.

There's a 350T with PAF's on the market here in town. With the economy being so bad right know it's going for dirt and I'm really thinking about picking it up. Not that I'll be able to play it, it's just a really cool guitar and is 100% original.

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Thats great, Can't wait to see him a VLV this year!

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Been a fan of CB since I don't know when: first saw him at the Liverpool Empire in 64.

Obviously he's always regarded as a Gibson man, but my first Chuck album was After School Session and on the cover he's pictured playing what I always thought looked like a Gretsch Jet — or could it be the Les Paul that went up in flames at Berry Park? In the brief interview at the head of this thread, his son doesn't say which model it was or how old it was.

I think the After School Session front cover pic is a still from one of the rock'n'roll movies of the time — possibly Rock, Rock, Rock: does anyone have a dvd of the movie? If so, next time you watch it, please can you have a close look at that guitar.

This might be just an inconsequential bit of guitar minutiae, but it just happens to have been bugging me for about 40 years!

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Dave_K: said: Obviously he's always regarded as a Gibson man, but my first Chuck album was After School Session and on the cover he's pictured playing what I always thought looked like a Gretsch Jet — or could it be the Les Paul that went up in flames at Berry Park? In the brief interview at the head of this thread, his son doesn't say which model it was or how old it was. I think the After School Session front cover pic is a still from one of the rock'n'roll movies of the time — possibly Rock, Rock, Rock: does anyone have a dvd of the movie? If so, next time you watch it, please can you have a close look at that guitar.

Here is a youtube that probably is the basis for what you are talking about. It is a Jet although it is hard to be certain which one. I don't think it was even his guitar. Since he is obviously lipsyncing, it really didn't matter what he was playing.

Chuck Berry "playing" a Gretsch

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dbirchett: Thanks for posting that clip — yep, that's where the After School Session album cover came from. Is that a Chet Atkins solid body? I really like that performance, even if it was mimed.

Shame if the guitar was just used as a prop: his early records (pre-PAF humbuckers) had a great single coil guitar sound. P90s, I suppose.

But for a real rock'n'roll guitar (not to mention the amps), try this:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=HICsPNm2ARY

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Great reporting there Roosto!

A number of years ago, I was standing in a line at the San Francisco airport and turned around to find Chuck Berry standing right behind me. I was pretty sure it was him, but didn't want to make a fool of myself, if it wasn't. Anyway, just as I was trying to think of something to say, a young guy ran in, handed him a guitar case and left. I ended up having a very pleasant exchange with him . He was nice and I think he enjoyed having someone to talk to, in what was a very long line ... The funny thing is he was flying coach class, just like I was ...

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Good god, I love You Can't Catch Me so much, lyrically and musically. That my friends, is a rockin' record.

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Taken from a compilation album from a UK TV series called Head Over Heels.

60's Stereo White Falcon

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Ahhh...Chuck Berry! My very first guitar hero. Remember seeing him on Don Kirchners Rock Concert show in the 70's. I had just gotten home from the bar and was eating a salami sandwhich and dill pickle late night snack, when I flicked on the tube and saw Chuck doing his patented duck walk across the stage doing Johnny B Goode or was it Carol? Anyway, man that guy had THE chops! What an inspiration to us all. Hail hail Chuck Berry!

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Thanks for sharing that, Roosto. One up to you.


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