Before the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, there was Chuck Berry, and a new documentary looks at his legacy as one of the first rock and roll stars.
Chuck Berry, with a trailer out Monday, is the first feature documentary to look at the life of the iconic musician, who died in 2017 at age 90. It includes new interviews with musicians such as rock star Alice Cooper, KISS guitarist Gene Simmons, Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry and multiple members of Bruce Springsteen‘s E Street Band.
Family members — including widow Themetta Suggs, who was married to the performer for 68 years — also give insight into Berry’s life.
“When he came home, he was the man I married,” Suggs, in her first interview, says of Berry’s 1½ years in jail for transporting a 14-year-old girl across state lines. His attorney adds, “The only person I ever saw Charles be sentimental or romantic about was Themetta.”
The movie also features interviews with Berry’s children, Ingrid and Charles Jr.
“The family members really gave a profound insight into the man behind the music,” director Jon Brewer told Rolling Stone.
With hits including “Johnny B. Goode,” “Maybellene” and “Roll Over Beethoven,” Berry made an early impact on the budding genre of rock and roll, and became one of the first people inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
“It was the blueprint for what rock and roll is supposed to be,” Cooper says of Berry’s influence.
E Street Band guitarist Steve Van Zandt calls Berry a “storyteller,” while CHIC frontman Nile Rodgers notes that “he changed the guitar.”
Berry also made history as a black musician, becoming one of the first popular artists to appeal to white audiences as well.
As Simmons puts it in the trailer, “Chuck Berry was Chuck Berry. The definition of Chuck Berry is: Chuck Berry.”
Chuck Berry premieres at the Nashville Film Festival on Oct. 4.
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