Chuck Berry on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert

Chuck Berry on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert

excerpt “Drummer’s History” Russell Buddy Helm copyright 2013 all rights reserved

1977. I had finally managed to break free of the music business by getting a job through Wolfman Jack’s art director on the TV show called Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert. It was a break from what I saw as futile work in the music business. I was still recovering from the murder of Tim Buckley, plus the disappointing results of Bethlehem Asylum and countless other music projects.  It seemed being a musician was dangerous and foolhardy. So now I was working on the biggest live rock n roll show on network TV.  We were setting up the seven camera shoot. We had two Chapman cranes with big video cameras on them, two hand held cameras that prowled around the stage, the rest were stationary out in the sound stage- the same sound stage where they had filmed “Gone with the Wind”  decades earlier. Some of the Antebellum sets were still stacked up outside.  I was holding a clipboard and wearing headphones, listening to the director when Chuck Berry walked onto the stage with his retinue.  I said “Hi Chuck! Do you know who your drummer is tonight?” I grinned, it was an old joke. He looked at me suspiciously, “Yeah. Brought him from Memphis with me.” Then he looked at me with shock and confusion. “What are you doing here?”.

“I’m your stage manager.” I grinned loving this moment. “Do you remember when I was your drummer in Florida?” He got angry. “Of course I do. Are you still playing the drums?” I stammered. The wind suddenly came out of my new sails. I felt ashamed when I said it but I tried to cover up my mixed feelings,  “Not so much.” I said quietly. “Shame on you.” He said. “Shame on you.” He repeated. “You should be playing the drums, Man.” He turned around and walked away.

excerpt “Drummer’s History” Russell Buddy Helm copyright 2013 all rights reserved



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3 Responses to Chuck Berry on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert

  1. Anonymous says:

    Who did play drums for Chuck that night? Could it have been…Rick Carrell?

  2. Rick Carrell says:

    I played drums for Chuck on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert and many other shows including shows for Dick Clark rock n roll revival at Madison Square Garden and Boston Garden. The Don Kirshner video is hard to find. If someone knows how to find it, I’d appreciate the information so I can get a copy. Thank you. Rick Carrell

  3. John Wallrapp says:

    Hey Rick, I’ve been trying to find you for years!
    write me at

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