‘If you had tried to give rock ‘n’ roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry,’ pronounces John Lennon in an old interview at the outset of Taylor Hackford’s glowing two-hour love letter to the kingpin of rock ‘n’ roll.
Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll is a joyous docu that effortlessly weaves luminary rock interviews with performance footage mostly shot at Berry’s 60th birthday bash concert at the Fox Theatre St Louis.
Talking heads interviews with such rockers at Phil and Don Everly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Keith Richards, Roy Orbison and Bruce Springsteen testify to the fact that Berry’s influence is all-pervasive in rock. As a singer songwriter, guitarist, and bop-till-you-drop performer, Berry was real ‘troubadour.’
Berry’s ruminations cover everything from his love of cars, to breaking the color code, payola, his 40-year marriage, and how he chose to adapt his lyrics and subjects to cross over to white audiences.