One satellite channel was tuned to johnny carson, the other was hard-core porn. Chuck said something I didnt quite catch, and I thought about his assistants job descriptions. Too much monkey business for me to be involved. Last time i saw Chuck berry he was waving me goodbye. Ill see you in London, Ill see you in France, he said, playfully pointing at each of us as we shook hands, hugged, and thanked him for everything. We got back into the cars where our lonely, empty cameras had spent the day. Stendhal Syndrome, also known as hyperkulturemia, is a psychosomatic illness triggered when individuals feel totally overwhelmed in the presence of concentrated works of art or what they perceive to be immense beauty. The effects are short-lived and do not require medical attention.
M: Steve, berry : books, biography, blog, audiobooks, kindle
I dont drink anymore, but they keep giving me these, he said while holding a cardboard box filled with an assortment of airline liquor bottles. I took a vodka (maybe two). He also gave us gold-colored souvenir matchbooks with Chuck berry written in black type. We drank and watched him eat. Chuck, eat your peas, scolded one of his assistants. He finished and asked, would you like a tour of the house? As we all thought, Are have you fucking kidding me? And responded with a polite chorus of yes and thank you. We then followed Chuck to his study where almost every square inch of wall space was covered by framed gold records, awards, photos, and letters from Presidents, music royalty, and other vips. Back to the kitchen through the living room, we couldnt help but notice the round king-sized mattress on the floor, with two projection-tv screens playing.
Berry wasnt happy with the drummer, so during a break he casually drifted over to the set and started tinkering. Hey, lay one of these down, he called to the guys in the booth, and played what would become the drum track. Then he did the same thing on piano, and after a few hours of sheer jaw-dropping joy, we shortage had what we needed. Well, i looked at my watch and it was time. The bandleader said, we aint playing no more. It would have been the end of a perfectly wonderful and crazy daybut it got even better. Chuck asked, would you all like to come inside for a drink? Yeah, we all said, squeezing around Chucks kitchen table while his two female assistants prepared his dinner of spaghetti with tomato sauce and a side of peas.
I still cant believe the king of Rock n Roll asked me for permission to adjust his own song. Yeah sure Chuck, i stuttered. A few more takes followed, but then some equipment broke down—and while it was getting fixed, Chuck started jamming. No particular Place to go flowed into nadine then Roll over beethoven and more. Chuck even did his signature duck walk. Its such a sight to see somebody steal the show. Then the equipment was fixed and our private show ended. Ok, boys, lets play for money, chuck said, and they played a few more takes.
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Dogs barked as we grabbed our cameras and Charlie reminded us, in no uncertain terms: no cameras. Then Chuck berry came out to greet. I got the wiggles in my knees. After our awestruck hellos, Chuck directed us past two small in-ground swimming pools, half filled with dark water and dead leaves, to a large building across from his house that was used as a local night club. This, too, had seen better days. Inside was a low stage surrounded by tables and chairs, a bar, and a jukebox. The group followed Chuck into his side studio, but I hung back because i english just had to see the songs on Chuck berrys jukebox.
Seven hundred little records, all rock, rhythm and jazz. Chucks daughter Ingrid and her boyfriend arrived (he played rhythm guitar). Editors note: Steve is talking here about Ingrids husband Henry Chuck Clay who played guitar, bass and drums behind Berry on many occasions. The piano player showed soon after, but the drummer was a no show, so, ingrids guitar-playing boyfriend took his place. Then we discovered the studios 24-track system had about four working tracks. Chuck and his band reviewed the 30-second musical arrangement and started warming. After a little rehearsing, Chuck walked straight over to me and said, i need a little chord to get the song going.
A deal was struck. It would be Chuck berrys first commercial. Editors note: Not quite. There was the 1970s Dr Pepper song as well as a couple of text-only commercials. It goes to show you never can tell. The deal was 15,000 cash.
We had to record in Chuck berrys personal studio on his compound in Wentzville,. There would be no autographs and absolutely no cameras. Along with me and Gary, the team from ddb included tv producer Regina Ebel; music director mike doran; account supervisor Charlie zollo; music producer John Hill; his engineer Glen Kolotkin. We flew way out. Louis, drove 30 minutes south, and arrived at a driveway marked by large granite headstone engraved with the words Berry park. The long, winding driveway led us to a modest ranch house that looked a little worse for wear.
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Meanwhile i was thinkin, maybe we could get Chuck berry to re-record his own song. He could use the money. And why go the typical route essay and pay studio musicians to imitate Chuck berry if we can pay the real Chuck berry? Aint got nothing to lose. At ddb, some folks thought hed never. But persistence exceeded writing resistance. Negotiations were made and remade.
My art director Gary goldsmith and I management got thrown into a creative gangbang for the vw gti. The brief was simple: position the gti as fun to drive. Hey, lets take chuck berrys song no particular Place to go and show a gti driving all over the place! We changed the opening lyrics to Driving around in my gti, my baby sittin by my side. The client loved. Go go go johnny. Around this time, i saw a rock and roll documentary on tv featuring Chuck berry. He was going through hard, lean times, playing small clubs with local house bands. He was a solitary and bitter guy, resentful of the music executives who ripped him off and of not making the big money like the many bands so heavily influenced by his music.
Chuck liked to get paid upfront. And finally that incentive sealed the deal as he was opposed to some contract language that was non-negotiable and refused to sign. I actually got up and was walking out when he called me back saying "ok, i'll sign, but you don't expect me to sign without getting paid first, do you?" I whipped out this very large cashiers check and that was it, he signed. He then gave me a tour of his Memorabilia room. Hanging costumes, guitars, photos. This is Steve's story about the recording session in Berry park, with some embedded comments: It was January 1985. Editors note: According to Charlie's documents, the recording session told here happened in September 1984. I, steve landsberg was a copywriter at ddb.
Steve and especially that time's ddb account representative charlie zollo have been very helpful with Steve telling even more than his story and Charlie providing a great collection of old documents from his files. Many thanks to both! Steve even sent me a copy of the 1985 tv spot. Concurrently Anne Chanu found a poor copy of the spot on. Therefore all of you can go essay back in time and hear Berry perform this otherwise unreleased studio recording: m/watch? VSjsjhv2Rfqu, given Charlies and Steves additional information, Steves original article for Adweek needs some corrections and additions. Both Steve and Adweek allowed me to provide you here with an updated version of Steves story. But let's first remember Charlie zollo how difficult it was to have chuck berry sign the contract: While we can't say how much, i was prepared with a "suitcase full of cash" as we fondly remember (actually a large cashiers Check) as an upfront incentive.
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Chuck berry's Recording Session for Volkswagen. Ridin along in paper my automobile, my baby beside me at the wheel. Remembering this line from Chuck berrys 1964 hit no particular place to go, copywriter Steve landsberg and art director Gary goldsmith of doyle dane bernbach, Inc. (DDB) had the idea for an automobile advertising tv spot. So for the 1985 Volkswagen campaign they modified the text a little bit and produced the tv spot for VWs gti car showing the gti riding the country with no particular place. When I researched Chuck berrys contribution to the 1977 Dr Pepper advertising campaign (see the previous blog post i ran into a march 2017 article by Steve landsberg posted in the AgencySpy blog on the Adweek network website: The day i spent making. I didnt know this. And my friends here didnt either. So i started researching more about this rare recording.