photo credit: YouTube via Rob Lovash
As news of rock legend Chuck Berry’s death rolled in Saturday evening, bands stopped the flow of their shows to work in a tribute to the man they call the father of rock and roll. KISS frontman Gene Simmons was one of them as he embarked on his first ever solo show at Cleveland’s famed Agora Theatre, his 17-song set punctuated by the somber announcement that Chuck had died:
“It’s a very sad day today. One of the founding fathers of rock and roll has passed on… if it wasn’t for Chuck Berry there wouldn’t have been rock and roll.”
While Gene was visibly devastated and took to social media to share his grief at the loss of one of the world’s most loved musicians, that was the only sadness the audience was allowed to experience that night – Gene and his backing band Thee Rock And Roll Residency launched right into a rowdy, gritty cover of Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” that while unrehearsed and a little shaky in places beautifully embodied the “I’m doing it my way, everyone else be damned” spirit Chuck brought to rock and roll.
Gene’s been through some really tough, really sad things and like so many of us, used rock and roll music as an escape. It’s because of legends like Chuck who paved the way that Gene and so many others worked up the courage to find a dream and catch it and to jam “Johnny B. Goode” in his honor is about as fitting a “thank you” as any artist could ever hope to receive. Enjoy!