Contact info: Roy Wilson (631) 831-3992
Buzzards e mail list: BuzzardsNY@aol.com
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Roy Wilson & the Buzzards
Scroll for the Buzzards complete calendar.
As the pandemic slowly gets under control and restrictions ease up, we are so happy to be able to perform live again for our friends and fans. Thank you for your donations and support!
I am always honored when a venue believes in us and I never take that for granted. I understand that times are hard and there are many other places our fans can go to on any given night. Thank you to everybody for your support. Good people attract good people, positive energy attracts positive energy. Thank you to the Huntington Moose Lodge for giving me the chance to bring pure drama-free rockabilly music to more and more people.
This calendar is updated monthly, or more often as shows come in.
Some shows that we do every year:
Roy Wilson's Rockabilly Riot
(Huntington Moose Lodge)
Viva Las Vegas
(Orleans Hotel/Casino, Las Vegas, NV)
(Oyster Bay, NY)
Heavy Rebel Weekend
(Winston Salem, NC)
(Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum)
Fairport Music Festival
Syracuse Nationals Car Show
Sat, June 26, 2021,10am-6pm (bands start at noon)
Rumble in the Country
Rumblers Nomads Car Show
171 Town Hill Rd.
Roy Wilson and the Buzzards
Mark Gamsjager and the Lustre Kings
With an exciting opening set by the Hi-Fi Lowdowns
Sat, July 3, 2021, 10am-6pm
HRW presents the Downtown Getdown!
The Millennium Center
101 W 5th St.
Winston Salem, NC (336) 723-3700
Roy Wilson and the Buzzards
Jason Moss and the Hosses
The Tan and Sober Gentlemen
Snake River Canyon
Jesse Ray Carter Duo
Taylor Trew and AP Rodgers
Tues, July 13, 2021, 7pm-10:30pm
Swing Dance Long Island Monthly Swing Dance
Huntington Moose Lodge
631 Pulaski Rd.
7:30 Dance lesson
8pm Roy Wilson and the Buzzards
Fri, July 16, 2021, 5pm-6:30pm
The Syracuse Nationals Car Show
New York State Fairgrounds
Sparky's Rockin' Roundup Stage
581 State Fair Blvd
Syracuse, NY (800) 753-3978
Sun, July 18, 2021, 2pm-5pm
Iron Smoke Distillery
111 Parce Ave (5B)
Fairport, NY (585) 388-7584
Sat, July 24, 2021
Private event in Coney Island
Thurs, Aug 5
Sun, Aug 8, 3pm
The Rust Riot Car Show
Details to follow
Wed-Tues, Aug 11-17
Trip to Memphis
Sat, Aug 21, 2021, 7pm
159 S. Franklin Ave.
Valley Stream, NY (516) 825-4344
Linda Gail Lewis (Jerry Lee's sister)
The Lustre Kings
DJ Rockin' Daddy O
Tues-Tues, Sept 7-14, 2021
Viva Las Vegas
All shows are at the Orleans Hotel/Casino
Las Vegas, NV
Thurs, Sept 9, 4pm
Sweet Pea's Hooch and Smooch
Fri, Sept 10, 2am (Sat morning)
Reverend Martini's All-Night Jumpin' Showcase
Sat. Sept 11, midnight (Sun morning)
Deke Dickerson's Guitar Geek Show
Sat, Nov 13
ROCKABILLY SATURDAY NIGHT at the Rodeo Bar comes to a close...
Honors Program SCCC
Professor Chris Jentsch
History of Rock and Roll
Johnny B. Goode Meets the Bad Boy of Rock and Roll
Chuck Berry and Keith Richards
It’s hard to remember a time when there was not a
Keith Richards. He has lived a storied, well chronicled life of music; the very embodiment of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. A life lived to excess, a life of drugs, a life of rehabs, a life of blood transfusions, addiction, pain, and all around general debauchery. That is all the time we are going to spend down in the gutter of rock and roll. Keith Richards is a musician, a man who lives and dies for the next gig, the next note. As he says himself on the inside flap of his autobiography, “This is the life. Believe it or not, I haven’t forgotten any of it” (Richards 2010).
It is well documented that Keith Richards often says that his main influence is Chuck Berry. He recently went so far as to say that Berry’s solo on “Little Queenie” was the best guitar solo ever committed to record (New Musical Express 2007). That is not unusual; almost every British guitar player to come out of London in the early ‘60s expresses a fascination with American blues and rhythm and blues. Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmie Page, Pete Townshend; Richards certainly was in good company with the associates of his day. The Stones wore their devotion on their sleeves, recording no less than seven Chuck Berry songs, including their first single.
Berry released “Come On” in 1963. Not coincidentally at all, that was the first song the Rolling Stones ever released, also in 1963. They heard the song and wanted to pay homage to their hero so they recorded it without hesitation. To this day, not an interview goes by that Keith Richards does not sing the praises of his hero. There is no Rolling Stones band without Chuck Berry because, in the words of Richards himself, “Chuck Berry is food” (Richardson 2005).
Truth be told, it was Chuck Berry that was directly responsible for one of the most important chance meetings in music history. Richards tells it best in a letter to his Aunt Patty in April, 1962:
I was keen on Chuck Berry and I thought I was the only fan for miles. But one morning on Dartford Station I was holding one of Chuck’s records when a guy I knew at primary school comes up to me. He’s got every record Chuck ever made and all his mates have too. Anyway, the guy on the station is called Mick Jagger. Mick is the greatest R&B singer this side of the Atlantic and I don’t mean maybe. I play Chuck style and we practice 2 or 3 nights a week. (Richards 2010, 77)
Chuck Berry is a fascinating musician and lyricist and he draws his influences from everywhere. All things have a starting point and the commencement of his devotion to music began with two prevailing artists; the great blues player, T-Bone Walker and the famous 1940s bandleader, Louis Jordan, or more exactly, Jordan’s guitarist Carl Hogan. In fact, it is Hogan who wrote the most famous guitar riff in rock and roll history.
On Jordan’s 1946 recording of “Aint That Just Like a Woman” Hogan innocently opens the song with a seemingly unoffending guitar phrase. Twelve years later Chuck Berry either used it, borrowed it, copied it, or stole it. Suffice to say that Hogan’s simple melody was recreated note for note on the now-iconic “Johnny B. Goode”. It has become the archetypal guitar phrase; the starting point for most beginner guitarists. Berry also used the same opening riff on “Roll Over, Beethoven”, as well as variations of it on many other songs. One thing is certain, he was never deceptive and he always gave credit to his early heroes. “The first time I heard the riff was in one of Carl Hogan's riffs in Louis Jordan's band. We have T-Bone Walker, I love his slurs, he's bluesy. So put a little Carl Hogan, a little T-Bone Walker, and a little Charlie Christian….And making it simple is another important factor in being able to play my music, if you can call it my music. Ain't nothing new under the sun” (Bayles 1996, 151).
To further stress his point, in his biography at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame he clearly explains, “The kind of music I liked then, now, and forever is the kind I heard when I was a teenager. So, the guitar styles of Carl Hogan, T-Bone Walker, Charlie Christian and Elmore James must be the total of what is called Chuck Berry’s style. As you know, there is nothing new under the sun. So don’t blame me for being first, just let it last” (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Website).
So, Berry learned his famous riff from Carl Hogan. Where did he become versed in his other antics? T-Bone Walker seems to be the answer. Walker played many instruments and accompanied some of the greats of early blues. During this time he polished his stage act; doing splits, mimicking others as he strutted around the stage, and holding his guitar at unusual angles (including behind his head). According to blues musician Duke Robillard, Berry utilized Walker’s style and simply changed the rhythm. Guitar phrasing that were blues with Walker now became rock and roll with Berry. Robillard goes so far as to say, “So in essence, T-Bone was not only the first electric blues guitar player, but he was the first electric rock and roll electric player, really” (Bayles 1996, 151).
Berry was and is a showman. Although Keith Richards may have a flair for the dramatic he has never been a showy musician. From Berry he learned the importance of rhythm, and not just strumming along in time. He learned how to climb into the pocket and meld with the drummer and the bassist until they would become one unit. Why bother prancing about and doing splits when you have Mick Jagger in front of you?
In the 1960s Richards and the Rolling Stones knew they wanted to be musicians and they wanted to spread the message of American blues. In fact, from the moment the needle hit the groove the first time he played Johnny B. Goode, Keith Richards knew what he wanted to do. He did not know if he could make a living doing it, he just knew he would play music, even if was just a hobby and he ended up an accountant. In typical wry humor, he suggests that maybe he would have been better off if he had taken that path (Hackford 1987).
Beyond the many classic blues songs they have recorded throughout their career, the Rolling Stones additionally recorded a handful of Chuck Berry songs. “Come On”, “Around and Around”, and “Talkin’ ‘Bout You” were all songs that they released on their first few studio albums. Along the way there have been various other Berry songs recorded at live concerts, most notably being “Carol”, “Little Queenie”, and “Let It Rock”.
When Chuck Berry began recording it was a much simpler time. As Phil Chess (co-owner of Chess Records) points out, “We didn’t have anything to compare it to. We just kept trying to get the sound down on the record that we heard in the studio” (Pegg 2002 ). There were few rules to follow when it came to recording rock and roll. Also, it bears noting that Berry had near-perfect diction and his guitar sound was relatively clean. It was possible to record a song one day and release it literally the next day.
The Rolling Stones studio versions remain true to the Berry originals both in song structure and song length. An examination of the intros and solos reveal a conviction on Richards’ part to accurately demonstrate Berry’s meaning while still maintaining some artistic interpretation. He was not just memorizing the notes to the songs; they were inside his soul, anxious to be liberated. One thing that should be mentioned is that Richards’ job was a little easier than Berry’s, or maybe even significantly easier. Chuck Berry wrote the lyrics, the music, and the structure; in the Stones, Mick Jagger was there to sing, and Brian Jones was there to contribute in any way he saw fit. Richards was left with the job of faithfully representing the guitar parts. Because the Stones were discovering who they were as men and as musicians, the songs have a certain swagger and an elegant suggestiveness that is not so identifiable on the original Berry versions.
The live recordings tell a different account. The Stones used these as vehicles to both examine their roots and expand upon them. Structurally, the songs remained comparable but Richards slowed them down and utilized a much heavier guitar sound to create a tension and a drama that wasn’t apparent in the Berry recordings. It is not just that they were longer; Berry himself lengthened his songs when he performed them live. In the capable hands of Keith Richards the songs became one-act plays, with Mick Jagger playing the leading role. Gone was the easy elocution of the early Berry hits. In its place was an attitude; a boastful sexuality, and an element of danger. Two guitars now wove intricate layers around each other until it became unclear who was playing what. Taking what he learned from the master and expanding on it took Richards to new heights and, unfortunately, new lows.
Chuck Berry and Keith Richards both have a dark side, and both have had well-publicized brushes with the law. Early manifestations of racism humiliated Berry and demoralized him in a way that changed him forever. Poor management and dishonest promoters caused him to operate solely for himself from early in his career. The Rolling Stones’ wanton lifestyle compelled them to live outside the law, with Richards always being the baddest boy in a society of some very bad boys.
While Mick Jagger flourished in the limelight of fame, Richards sunk further and further and withdrew more and more from society, not unlike his hero. Berry and Richards bought estates early in their careers which, amazingly, they both still own today. Berry has had Berry Park, located near Wentzville, MO, since 1961, Richards has owned the famous (or infamous) Redlands, a 15th century Sussex estate in southern England, since 1965. They are loners, but not lonely. Both men have served time in prison, with Berry’s sentences adding up to about five years. Richards has been arrested numerous times but actually only spent a short time incarcerated for a drug bust at his estate in the mid 1960s.
Thematically, the songs of Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones probably have more differences than similarities, but it was Berry paving the way that led to the artistic freedom given to bands like the Stones. Berry did not live the innocent life in the good old USA portrayed in his songs. He saw a niche that was untapped and he exploited it. It is a certainty that his experiences driving through the heartland were not always pleasant. A black man traveling alone and entertaining white teenagers would not be welcome in the 1950s. Fast forward ten or twenty years and a group of long-haired dirty Londoners met with the same reception. Arrests, false accusations (and some true ones), and fights were all in a day’s work for Keith Richards and the boys. Their experiences showed up in the songwriting:
Oh, I’m sleeping under strange, strange skies,
Just another mad, mad day on the road.
My dreams is fading down the railway line;
I’m just about a moonlight mile down the road. (Jagger, Richards 1971)
The extreme privacy of Berry was undoubtedly the most prodigious impediment that Richards and movie director Taylor Hackford were up against in their 1986 undertaking, the colossal Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock n Roll. On paper it seemed like a marvelous idea; a celebration of Chuck Berry’s music, complete with behind-the-scenes interviews and footage of the rehearsals, all culminating in a star-studded two night 60th birthday party at the immaculate Fox Theater in St. Louis, MO. On paper is different from reality, as all who watched uneasily discovered. Berry’s tedious attention to detail and immature need to always have his own way, coupled with a monstrous ego and an innate meanness made for some extremely uncomfortable exchanges between him and the all-star band assembled by Keith Richards.
Two moments seem to sum up the whole event. For years Richards was angered at the low quality of the bands Berry had been using on the road, bands he often met backstage and went onstage with after hasty rehearsals or, more commonly, no rehearsals at all. Richards spent weeks rehearsing with Eric Clapton, Linda Ronstadt, Robert Cray, Julian Lennon and a host of other stars, fastidiously committing the parts to memory. When the concert finally began Berry decided to test Richards’ patience by rearranging the songs on the spot. Richards could only look on in sadness and disgust as the weeks of rehearsal flew out the window. He articulates, “Everybody’s looking at me onstage once we got up there, totally different arrangements, some in different keys, and I just looked at them, you know, -‘Wing it, boys!’” In the dressing room after the event, an obviously mentally and physically exhausted Richards waxed poetic, “He decided to write a book and make a movie. He opened a door and he thought he could let a few people in, and godammit, the whole world came in” (Hackford 1987).
Unbelievably, it’s been 27 years since Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock n Roll was released. What is truly unbelievable about it is that Berry and Richards are still friends. It was Richards’ dream to provide Berry with a great band. He unquestionably did that but it seems like he also learned something during the process, and maybe it was something he did not want to know. Sometimes our heroes fall short of our expectations. It seems like Richards was under the impression that Berry was going to be so excited and appreciative with the project that he was going to open up his whole world and give carte blanche access to anyone who wanted it. Richards might have been more realistic, but the love and respect still remain.
When Chuck Berry was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame it was Keith Richards who was given the honor of inducting him. In a now-famous speech at the Waldorf-Astoria Richards unpretentiously states, “It’s very difficult for me to talk about Chuck Berry because I lifted every lick he ever played! This is the gentleman that started it all as far as I’m concerned” (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Website).
Richards has not made a lot of the business mistakes that Berry made early in his career and that is most likely because Berry made them for him. Whole generations of rockers were able to observe the way Berry was taken advantage of by deceptive managers and unscrupulous promoters. Unfortunately it left a hole inside of him that never healed and a chip on his shoulder that never went away. The Rolling Stones formed their own label to avoid some of those very problems. Combine Mick Jagger’s education at the London School of Economics and Keith Richards’ watchful street smarts and you have a combination that is hard to take advantage of.
Chuck Berry turned 87 in October. A phrase comes to mind that Kris Kristofferson once used when talking about Johnny Cash. “He’s a walking, talking contradiction; partly truth and partly fiction.” The man who has known Chuck Berry the longest will have the final say. Johnnie Johnson, Berry’s piano player since 1952, was interviewed for Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock n Roll; “Hey, you all know Chuck just as good as I do. I’ve just known him longer” (Pegg 2002, 217)!
Roy Wilson, 2012
Bayles, Martha (1996). Hole in our soul : the loss of beauty and meaning in American
Popular music. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 151.
Hackford, Taylor, Dir. Chuck Berry-Hail! Hail! Rock n Roll. Prod. Stephanie Bennett,
and Chuck Berry. Universal City Studios Incorporated, 1987. Film. 19 Sep 2013.
Jagger, Richards. Moonlight Mile, Sticky Fingers. Rolling Stones Records, 1971. CD.
New Musical Express, “Keith Richards: Read the Interview the World is Talking About."
New Musical Express, author unknown. Web. 4 April 2007.
Pegg, Bruce. Brown Eyed Handsome Man-The Life and Hard Times of Chuck Berry. 1st. New York: Taylor and Francis Books Incorporated, 2002. Print.
Richards, Keith. Life. 1st. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2010. Print.
Richardson, John H. "Keith Richards-What I've Learned." Esquire. November (2005): n. page. Print.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Website, author unknown, date unknown