“Hail! Hail! Rock ’n’ Roll” documentary director, Taylor Hackford, says even at the age of 60, Chuck Berry never lost his “original rock and roll bad boy” persona. And, it wasn’t an act!
Hackford chronicled two 1986 Chuck Berry concerts in the documentary “Hail! Hail! Rock ’n’ Roll.” Both concerts were in honor of the “Johnnie B. Goode” singer’s 60th birthday. The director says that even thought he was aware of Berry’s reputation, he was still shocked at just how difficult he was in real life.
In an interview with Confidential, Hackford said the crew knew the pop music trailblazer had a “difficult” reputation when they arrived in St. Louis to start filming the documentary. But, they were thinking that time may have softened the star a bit. But, that was not the case. In fact, Taylor claims that Chuck Berry was “impossible.”
The “Hail! Hail! Rock ’n’ Roll” Chuck Berry documentary also features Keith Richards. Some say he seems a bit frustrated as he tries to organize a star-studded backup band for the rock and roll king’s two Fox Theater in St. Louis. Chuck Berry died Saturday at the age of 90.
“We were all there to celebrate him, we were all there because he changed our lives . . . but it was intrusive in his life,” Hackford remembers. “We all descended on his place and he did everything possible to sabotage what we were trying to do.”
The “La Bamba” director says that when Richards attempted to get Berry to rehearse with the band he had assembled, Berry — who had not rehearsed in decades — was none too pleased.
“You can see scenes in the film where they’re rehearsing and Chuck is actually giving Keith a lot of s—,” he said, chuckling. “In reality, most rock and roll stars would walk, they’re spoiled. But Keith took it. He knew what Chuck was doing. He took it and he forced Chuck to deliver.”
Hackford thinks that some of Berry’s thorniness was due to racism.
“The reality is, here’s Keith Richards who basically said, ‘I stole everyone of Chuck Berry’s guitar licks,’ and Keith Richards and the Stones have made hundreds of millions of dollars,” Hackford says.
“Everyone who came afterwards paid homage to Chuck Berry in their music and they freely admitted it. The difference was they were white. Chuck Berry, who created it all . . . although he made money, money was his idol, his god, but he was nowhere close to that success, and I think he resented it.”