- 1 of 3 Photos | View More Photos
Oh my ding a ling, everybody sing
I wanna play with my ding a ling a ling
Oh my ding a ling, my ding a ling
I wanna play with my ding a ling a ling
Although "My Ding-a-Ling" may not be Chuck Berry's most famous song, it certainly is an ear-catcher and sticks in the minds of many rock-n-roll fans. And despite Berry racking up many hits over his long career, the novelty song became his only No. 1 rock chart hit in 1972.
It was a sad day when I learned recently of the passing of the legendary Berry at the age of 90. He was indeed one of the most influential rock music singers, songwriters and guitarists.
I never got to see Berry perform in person, but saw him several times on television. The only 1950s-60s rock legend I did see in person was Freddie "Boom Boom" Cannon, who played in the early 1970s at the Mustang club between New Philadelphia and Dover during my college years.
Some of Cannon's hits were "Tallahassee Lassie," "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans" and "Pallisades Park."
The Mustang was a renovated barn which hosted many local performers and some nationally-known rock-n-roll acts who were in their later years of popularity. It started out housing an indoor miniature golf course, and later was known as the White Stallion and Pink Fink.
Berry was born and grew up in St. Louis. "Maybellene" was his first big hit in the mid-1950s. It reached No. 1 on Billboard magazine's rhythm and blues chart. It was an adaptation of the country song "Ida Red" by the legendary western swing band leader Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys.
"Johnny B. Goode" became another huge hit, along with "No Particular Place to Go," "You Never Can Tell," "Nadine," "Roll Over Beethoven," "School Days," "Rock and Roll Music," "Sweet Little Sixteen," "Brown-Eyed Handsome Man" and "Little Queenie."
His last Top 40 hit in the United States and the United Kingdom was "Reelin' and Rockin'" in 1968.
Berry continued to tour after his recording success ended, and was backed by such famous talents as Bruce Springsteen and Steve Miller. He was still playing 70 to 100 one-nighters each year in the 1980s.
In 1986, the documentary film "Hail! Hail! Rock-n-Roll" was a tribute to Berry on his 60th birthday, and included such legends as Eric Clapton, Etta James, Julian Lennon, Robert Cray and Linda Ronstadt.
Berry's first studio album in 38 years -- titled "Chuck" -- will be released soon. He and his children recorded it just before his death.
In addition to his talents on the guitar, Berry will be remembered for his one-legged hop routine and his "duck walk" on stage.
He received countless awards during his long career. He was ranked seventh on Time magazine's 2009 list of the 10 best electric guitar players of all time, received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984 and was a Kennedy Center Honors recipient in 2000. He's on several "greatest of all time" lists.
Of course, he's in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and I'm sure the Cleveland museum will feature a special exhibit about him soon.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame says about him: "While no individual can be said to have invented rock and roll, Chuck Berry comes the closest of any single figure to being the one who put all the essential pieces together.
"It was his particular genius to graft country and western guitar licks onto a rhythm and blues chassis in his very first single 'Maybellene.'"
John Lennon once said, "If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry.'" Bob Dylan called Berry "the Shakespeare of rock-n-roll" and Springsteen recently tweeted, "Chuck Berry was rock's greatest practitioner, guitarist and the greatest pure rock-n-roll writer who ever lived."
Rock-n-roll fans will miss him, but will be able to enjoy his music for years to come.
LYNN IN WARREN
Also on the music scene, the greatest female country singer -- Loretta Lynn -- has scheduled a tour stop at Packard Music Hall in Warren on June 9. If all goes well, I hope to get a ticket.
Her career has spanned nearly 60 years, and on April 14 she will turn 85 years old. And she's still going! Her website lists nearly two dozen performances in 2017, including one at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn. on her birthday.
In recent years, she has performed at Mountaineer Racetrack and Casino in Chester, W. Va. I wanted to see her there a couple of years ago, but couldn't make it.
As a country music fan since the early 1970s, I got to see her perform once -- in 1972 at the now defunct Ponderosa Park north of Salem. I really enjoyed that venue, and am sorry to see it abandoned and lying in ruins.
Some of the other top entertainers I saw there were Barbara Mandrell, Tanya Tucker, Buck Owens and Ray Price.
Lynn is known by several names -- the Queen of Country Music, the Blue Kentucky Girl and perhaps her most famous of all -- the Coal Miner's Daughter. Her early life and rise to fame was chronicled in the 1980 movie "Coal Miner's Daughter," which I saw five times at theaters when it came out, and have seen several times on TV.
Lynn is the most awarded female country recording artist in history and the only female Academy of Country Music Artist of the Decade (1970s).
Her first hit was "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl" in 1960. She has written more than 160 songs, released 60 albums and has sold 45 million records worldwide. She has had 10 No. 1 albums and 16 No. 1 singles, and has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1962.
Some of her other hits are "Don't Come Home A Drinkin,""You Ain't Woman Enough," "First City," "Coal Miner's Daughter," "One's on the Way," "The Pill," "Rated X," "Out of My Head and Back in My Bed" and "Dear Uncle Sam." And there were numerous others recorded with the late Conway Twitty.
Last year she released her latest albums -- "Full Circle" and "White Christmas Blue." After taking some time off from touring last fall because of injuries suffered in a fall, she's back in action and apparently going strong.
DOZERS IN RAVENNA
A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that a summer festival is planned Aug. 18-20 on the grounds of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Ravenna, and one of the headlining bands is Phil Dirt and the Dozers.
I was excited to hear that news, because back in the early 1980s when I lived in Newark, I drove over to Columbus on Sunday evenings to see the 1950s-60s style band play at a hotel lounge. Several times, my cousin who lived in Columbus joined me.
I also got to see them in concert at Tuscarawas Central Catholic High in New Philadelphia in 1985. I wanted to get down to the Coshocton County Fair a couple of years ago to see them, but couldn't make it.
Not many people in Northeast Ohio are familiar with them, but they play a lot of shows in central and southern Ohio and in other states. Fans of 1950s-60s music love them.
The band formed in 1981 in Columbus, and is still based there. Bill Lehr from Coshocton was a founding member, along with Steve Cabot. Other current members are Mark Frye, Tony Alfano, Hadden Sayers and Chris Guthrie. Three other former members are deceased.
So mark the date -- Aug. 19 -- and come out and enjoy the nostalgia in Ravenna.
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4189