Chuck Berry is such a world-famous figure that I can hardly add anything significant to the description of his personality. I can only happily talk about the day when I happened to see him in person.
It happened in about 2006. I no longer remember the exact date. My friend who was as a sound engineer at the former Moscow music club B-1 often offered me to “hang around” behind the scenes. He knew that I was keen on taking backstage photographs.
It was almost night when the phone rang and I heard him inviting me to come to the club today in his broken Russian (he was a Czech):
I know that you like to shoot backstage. Today we will have a concert… (illegible). Please come, maybe, you’ll manage to take some good photos.
And who is performing?
Oh, sounds great, I’m coming!
I felt uncomfortable to refuse his invitation, although I was unable to make out what he said. So I decided to go.
The group performing on the stage by the time I got there struck me as strange and boring. And I decided to take a few photos out of courtesy, as one can always spot something interesting if they keep their eyes peeled.
It was long after midnight when I started thinking of going home. But when I found my friend to thank him for the invitation – not every person can get behind the scenes of a major music club – he stared at me as if I was mad and said:
Are you crazy!? Chuck Berry has just arrived! I told you about this on the phone!
You’ve only seen the warm-up! He’s already coming to the stage! Maybe, you’ll manage to snap him.
This is how I found myself at a Chuck Berry gig.
In fact, as it turned out, Chuck Berry was very late and went straight to the stage, so I had no chance to meet him one-to-one, but still tried to snap a few photographs from the stage.
This image of him walking along the corridor to the stage in his captain’s cap stuck in my memory.
And, of course, the gig did not pass without his signature song Johnny B. Goode which Chuck Berry couldn’t but perform.