This Sunday 11 June at 1pm, BBC Radio 6 Music broadcasts a never-before-broadcast interview with Chuck Berry from the 1970s - Chuck Berry 40 Years On.
Chuck was a founding father of rock 'n' roll, whose songs (Johnny B. Goode, Promised Land, Roll Over Beethoven and many more) have become standards, covered by the likes of Elvis, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. He wasn't an easy character though, and rarely gave interviews. On the occasions that he did, he was generally less then forthcoming.
Anthony Wall, longstanding series editor of the BBC television arts strand Arena, began his career as a radio studio manager in the 70s. He also moonlighted as the rock critic for the Morning Star and, in this capacity, interviewed Chuck twice and found him in a mellow mood. Thankfully, Anthony had the foresight to record both interviews in broadcast quality. Between his shifts on the Today programme, he lovingly wove these rare interviews together with Chuck's songs and quotes from other interviews he’d done with the likes of Chess label-mate Muddy Waters and rockabilly hero, Carl Perkins.
This programme was a precursor of films Anthony would go on make for Arena, and contains a critique of Berry's 1965 hit Promised Land by Cambridge don Dr John Barrell. It ends with Chuck reciting a poem. Back in the 1970s when he first made it, Anthony originally offered the programme to Radio 1. They turned the programme down, but asked for the raw interviews. Anthony told them that they could have the whole programme or nothing. They refused, so it remained on the shelf for forty years gathering dust - until now.
When Chuck Berry died, it occurred to Anthony that, since so little had been heard from the man himself about his extraordinary life and music, it was about time that the programme was finally broadcast. BBC Radio 6 Music is delighted to oblige.
Chuck Berry 40 Years On
1-2pm, Sunday 11 June
BBC Radio 6 Music