Time Capsule: Brian Brennan meets Chuck Berry

In 1979 Chuck Berry was sentenced to four months for income tax evasion. Part of his sentence was 1,000 hours of community service. While serving his sentence at the Federal Prison Camp in Lompoc, California, he performed a concert at the Federal Correctional Institution at Lompoc.  Photo by Kevin Schraer via Flickr, Creative Commons

In 1979 Chuck Berry was sentenced to four months for income tax evasion. Part of his sentence was 1,000 hours of community service. While serving his sentence at the Federal Prison Camp in Lompoc, California, he performed a concert at the Federal Correctional Institution at Lompoc. Photo by Kevin Schraer via Flickr, Creative Commons

Chuck Berry stopped talking to reporters after they wrote about him being jailed in America during the 1960s for transporting an under-age girl across U.S. state lines for “immoral purposes.” But he made an exception for  Arts columnist Brian Brennan. An excerpt of Brennan’s new Brief Encounters column, Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll: Chuck Berry (paywall):

Chuck Berry was cranky. He hadn’t seen a contract for his scheduled nightclub appearance, and he wasn’t about to step out of the airport limo that had brought him to the club. The club had sold tickets for two dinner shows, but Berry wasn’t going to do even one show until he saw that contract. The club manager was in a panic. He had two sold-out shows on his hands and the possibility of refunds loomed.

The crisis was averted when the manager phoned the agent’s office in Los Angeles, found to his great relief that the agent was burning the midnight oil, and had the contract faxed to him pronto. There it was in black-and-white: Two one-hour shows starting at 10:00 p.m., with a 45-minute break between them. Berry had one more condition. He would have to be paid in cash, American cash. He didn’t trust that Canadian play money.

I don’t know if the manager was able to round up the needed American cash. Likely not, given the hour of the night and the fact that banking machines had yet to be rolled out nationally in Canada. But Berry was ready to rock and that was all that mattered. … log in to read Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll: Chuck Berry (day pass or subscription required*)

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