I was in a LA band called The Falcons, we opened for Chuck Berry for his first concert post jail at his March 1980 Hollywood Palladium sold out concert. I was the drummer.
I believe our manager or agent landed the gig, which was a very high profile date.
The Falcons rehearsed his songs for a couple of weeks, with no idea what he would play.
Chuck showed up at soundcheck,laid his guitar next to my drum set.It stayed there all night.It was out of tune.
He said to me can you play (hits thigh and stomps foot.) I said yes. Chuck said “Play it all night.” He came with his own bass player who gave key signals and lifted his leg and dropped it for the starts and stops.
During the second song our piano player Mickey Mariano, who later joined me in The Three O’Clock was not seeing that Chuck wanted to bring the sound down, his head was staring into the grand piano. After the song Chuck’s bass player went up to him and said “Chuck would like you to leave the stage.”
The set was so weird, playing in front of 5000 people with no set list.
Around the third song, my head was down and I looked up Chuck was smiling at me between my cymbals. I was taken aback. Fe walked to the mike and said “DRUM SOLO!!!” (not a fan of drum solos), I did a few fills and back to the beat. Chuck said “MORE!!!” and that was what I did, a second solo. Somewhere I have the cassette of the gig.
Chuck said to Mickey after the set”Follow the Leader”, he did invite him back for the encore.
Below is a photo from the gig. He was quite nice to us, and it was a pretty amazing night. I think people forget, that Chuck came out of prison in 1964 and picked up where he left off, writing amazing songs Like Promised land, Nadine etc. And having more chart hits.