Berry, who turns 90 on Tuesday influenced all of the Desert Trip artists with '50s rock 'n' roll hits such as Maybelline, Johnny B. Goode and Brown-Eyed Handsome Man.
7:37 PM CDT October 13, 2016
It’s a stretch of the imagination to say Desert Trip wouldn’t exist without Chuck Berry. But not a big one.
Berry, who turns 90 on Tuesday influenced all of the Desert Trip artists with '50s rock 'n' roll hits such as Maybelline, Johnny B. Goode and Brown-Eyed Handsome Man. While the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Who and Roger Waters have been partying at the two-weekend festival in Indio, there is no plan to salute Berry, and few plans to celebrate his birthday anywhere in the country.
According to a Google search, the largest celebration scheduled in the United States is a three-night tribute at the Rafael Espinoza Music Academy in Mineola, Texas, featuring music by Rafael Espinoza and his Lone Star Trio. Berry, who lives in St. Louis, hasn’t slated any performances, according to his website. Desert Trip promoter Paul Tollett says he didn’t want to incorporate a birthday theme into his festival.
Yet, people who have worked with Berry say the Desert Trip artists will remember him.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the stars are aware,” said Bobby Craig, a rock ’n’ roll pianist who played with Berry in the 1980's and Elvis Presley in the 1970's in Palm Springs. “They probably are doing some things just on their own. Those guys are clearly of the age that had their socks knocked off by Chuck Berry — because Chuck Berry broke all the rules. His records were great, his tunes were great, the ideas he sang about were great. I think they have to know that.”
Hackford also celebrated Berry’s 80th birthday by releasing a five-disk DVD set with a behind-the-scenes look at those concerts and complete interviews with rock 'n' roll pioneers who attested to Berry’s greatness and eccentricities.
He said Berry should be celebrated on his 90th birthday, too.
“I think Chuck Berry should be saluted every time there’s a concert,” said Hackford, who is now finishing a film with Robert De Nirocalled The Comedian. “He is totally unique and his influence just goes everywhere. But, the Rolling Stones are going to do what they’re going to do and they’re a great, great band. They cut their teeth on Chuck Berry and that was clear. They have many times talked about that influence.”