1973-04-28, University Of Maryland, College Park, MD

Greetings From Asbury Park Tour
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Notes

Bruce and the band backs up Chuck Berry as well as playing their own set.

Eyewitness accounts

Were you there? Write about it!
148
Albee Tellone wrote: Another roadie story for you. I have a few details for the University of Maryland show with Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis on 1973/04/28. First of all I'd like to say that EVERYONE in the band was excited to do a show with Chuck Berry. Garry Tallent was such a big fan that he knew all the words to all of Berry's songs. Southside Johnny heard about the gig and I offered to take him with me in the equipment van.

After we set up Bruce's band equipment we were handed copy of Berry's contract as to how to set up his stage. I can confirm that the contract stipulated that the promoter was to supply a back-up band for him along with specific Fender brand amplifiers. I read it before I set up the stage exactly as Mr. Berry wanted it and kept the copy in the van as a souvenir. Unfortunately I no longer have it.

Chuck Berry walked in the backstage door about 30 minutes before the show by himself carrying only his electric guitar. Bruce and the boys immediately surrounded him and asked "Mr. Berry, what songs are we gonna play ?" and his reply was "Chuck Berry songs boys! What did you think !? " and he walked off to his dressing room with a big smile on his face. We didn't see him again until just before he was to go out on stage.

After Jerry Lee's set, Big Danny and I set up the stage for Berry and our band. Additionally, I set up a microphone for Southside Johnny on the far stage left side next to Bruce but in the back so as not to interfere with Berry downstage. Chuck came out and called a song title in the key of Bb ! The boys were shocked. They had always played those songs at the Upstage in the keys of E or A . They didn't know how to play in flat keys very well at that young age (early 20s). Then, to make it worse, Berry got mad at Garry and Vini for playing "too much". I looked on from behind the amps when he turned around to Garry and told him to play just one note for each chord change, no walking bass patterns! He literally played it out on his guitar to show him. The boys thought he was gonna bite their heads off after that.

On the next song in the show, Southside was playing some harmonica in the background when Berry finally realized he was there. In the middle of the song he looked at me and yelled "bring that microphone up front!" - he then grabbed the stand himself and told Johnny to "take it". Meanwhile Bruce and the band were still playing the chord changes while this was going on.

Johnny was very scared at that point but he played great. When the song was over, Berry announced to the crowd, "that white boy can play the REAL blues" pronouncing it "blooze". Johnny was pumped after getting approval from THE MAN HIMSELF and the whole band relaxed after that and put on a terrific show. Later, on the way back home in the van, Johnny said to me " I thought he was gonna kill me for messing with his show ! " I did too ! We talked about that show for years afterward.

Albee Tellone

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(1988 or 1988-07 or 1988-07-25)




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