The Last Time I saw Chuck Berry

The last time I saw Chuck Berry was on a television show. I had grown disillusioned with the music biz, or it was afraid of me. it was going corporate and stupid. I was a percussionist with Wolfman Jack’s big band, the world famous DJ.
“I’m sick of hanging around idiot musicians. Is there any way I can get a job in the TV or film business?” Wolfman was the host for Midnight Special, a live music show. So, I became stage manager for Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert, another live network TV show with a wide range of hit bands from Bay City Rollers to Pheobe Snow, Quincy’s big band and Cheap Trick, Link Wray and also Chuck Berry. I’m standing on the stage checking the micing for the live drums, while the seven camera crews set up their shots. The director was at the far end of the soundstage in a soundproofed engineering booth talking to everyone on headsets. We were shooting one inch video recording tape with several back up decks for iso shots to be cut in later. But most of it was live and very challenging. I liked it.
Chuck comes sauntering into the historical soundstage where “Gone with the Wind” had been filmed. He had his usual group of people around him. He walks up the gangplank to the stage and I meet him. He looks up at me frowning with confusion, I was wearing a headset and carrying a clipboard, and wearing normal street clothes.
“Hi Chuck! Do you know who your drummer is tonight?” That was my joke to him because he was known for using local musicians that the local promoters had to find.
“Yeah! Of course I do!” He gets angry, “What are YOU doing here?”
“I’m your stage manager!” I said brightly.
“Are you still playing the drums?” He asked accusingly. Suddenly he was cross examining me.
“Well… no. Not really that much lately.” I mumbled.
He got in close and wagged his long brown finger in my face and said sternly,
“Shame on you!….SHAME ON YOU!…..SHAME!……ON!…..YOU!” He punctuated with his finger and it felt like he had slapped me hard, but he hadn’t touched me. He turned around and walked away and refused to talk to me again.
It took me awhile but I got back to the drums and I understood what he meant. I also realized that he cared that much. I was lucky to have met Chuck Berry,  let alone play drums with him.

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