On this last tour I could see him getting tired from 10,000 miles away.
Would a promoter wake his or her aged grandmother at 2:30 every morning to head to the airport and everything that entails? After a couple hours in a hotel (where rest never comes anyway?) Chuck Berry's more than a road warrior-- he's done 8000 or so one nighters-- but he's 87!
I've done a bit of business travel- a week or so at a time in a handful of cities in my own country. Even that much much can be deadly. The security lines, the shoe removal, the uncomfortable seats, the delays, the corporate food, the public restrooms, the hotel with just a hint of odor, the stumbling drunks in the hall, the endless cable stations: click, click, click, click, click...
But at least when I travel I get to sleep until 6 or 7 am.
Chuck Berry has had decades of one nighters. Early in his career he drove broken down busses and nice running Cadillacs. Later in his career he flew home after the shows. But he's paid dues enough that some accommodation should be made towards sanity. The man's a legend. Treat him like one.
If he's got a nice hotel room, let him use it. Let him sleep till morning. Take him on a tour of the city. Meet the mayor. (The mayor will be thrilled. It'll be Chuck Berry day.) Fly mid day. Or schedule an extra day to recover.
The crowds who fill venues in far off corners starved for Chuck Berry will certainly wait another day to see him and hear him. The smart ones are only there to say thank you to a man they love. They'll wait their turns.
And if he's able to get some rest between shows he'll seem and sound more like Chuck Berry.
From what I can tell, he gave it his all on the Fall 2013 tour. He did a "scoot" in Oslo. He played ondespite constant hiccups and not enough air.
But as he once told a deranged promoter after a two hour show: "Look. I love those people. But I'm not going to let them kill me."
Chuck Berry, if you're out there, it's time to take it easy. Stop traveling for us. Put out that record we've been hearing about for so many years. Spend time with your kids and their kids. If you want to play, hitch a ride to Blueberry Hill.
We'll come to you.
(Read the Bob Baldori interview about not killing himself HERE.)