Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll!


1h 50m 1987

Brief Synopsis

A performance celebration of Chuck Berry's 60th birthday party concert at Fox Theatre in St Louis, Missouri. The film also exams the roots of his music through inerterviews with Berry himself, and many other well known names in rock 'n' roll history.

Film Details

Also Known As
Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, Chuck Berry's Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll!, Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll!, Hail, Rock 'n' Roll
MPAA Rating
Release Date
1987
Distribution Company
UNITED INTERNATIONAL PICTURES (UIP)/UNIVERSAL PICTURES
Location
Hollywood, California, USA; Fox Theater, St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Cosmopolitan Club, St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Berry Park, Wentzville, Missouri, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 50m

Synopsis

A performance celebration of Chuck Berry's 60th birthday party concert at Fox Theatre in St Louis, Missouri. The film also exams the roots of his music through inerterviews with Berry himself, and many other well known names in rock 'n' roll history.

Crew

Victor Abbene

Grip

Daniel Adams

Assistant Camera Operator

Thomas D Adelman

Unit Production Manager

Jack Albeck

Other

Stuart Allen

Other

Audie Aragon

Dolly Grip

Jack Beckman

Assistant

Stephanie Bennett

Producer

Chuck Berry

Coproducer

Chuck Berry

Other

Ingrid Berry

Other

Bo Diddley

Other

Rosemary Brandenburg

Set Decorator

Michael Buckner

Transportation Captain

Michael Buckner

Security

Jim Callaghan

Security

Robert Carmody

Assistant Camera Operator

Jerry Chan

Camera

Sam Cherroff

Video Assist/Playback

Joan Churchill

Camera Operator

Eric Clapton

Other

Ron Cogswell

Sound

Steve Cogswell

Video Assist/Playback

Kim Colefax

Production Designer

K.c. Colwell

Assistant Director

Stephen C Confer

Camera Operator

Jeffrey Conroy

Production Assistant

Alicia Craft

Assistant Camera Operator

Robert Cray

Other

Lisa Day

Editor

Wayne De La Roche

Assistant Camera Operator

Doreen Dixon

Dialogue Consultant

Doreen Dixon

Adr

Don Everly

Other

Phil Everly

Other

Bruce Fedorka

Assistant Camera Operator

Paul Ferrara

Key Grip

Eric Fletcher

Assistant Camera Operator

Duncan Forbes

Assistant Camera Operator

Michael Frondelli

Music

Jessica Gallavan

Assistant Editor

Phil Gitomer

Production

Dana W Gonzales

Assistant Camera Operator

Jill Goularte

Apprentice

David W Gray

Consultant

Bryan Greenberg

Camera Operator

Dave Hewitt

Audio

Philip Holahan

Camera Operator

John Lee Hooker

Other

David Hulsey

Electrician

Etta James

Other

Steve Jordan

Other

Paul Justman

Editing

Carlton Kaller

Music Editor

Mike Kelley

Sound Engineer

Bobby Keys

Other

Bill Klages

Lighting

Rick Kline

Sound

Edward Lachman

Camera Operator

Edward Lachman

Other

Edward Lachman

Director Of Photography

Fritz Lang

Production

Chris Lanzenberg

Assistant Camera Operator

Kelley Lapping

Other

Jerri Lauridsen

Production Coordinator

Chuck Leavell

Other

Julian Lennon

Other

Jerry Lee Lewis

Other

Steve Litman

Assistant

Little Richard

Other

Mark Ludwig

Assistant Camera Operator

Chuch Magee

Music

Larry Mann

Sound Effects Editor

Beau E.l. Marks

Assistant Director

Jim Marshall

Assistant Camera Operator

J B Matteotti

Production

Max Mcclay

Camera Equipment

Larry Mcconkey

Steadicam Operator

Sandy Mcleod

Script Supervisor

Michael Mekjian

Boom Operator

John Merz

Assistant

David Michels

Grip

Karen Minahan

Sound Effects Editor

Donald O Mitchell

Sound

Chris Moseley

Assistant Camera Operator

Jerry Nashleanas

Gaffer

George T Nierenberg

Associate Producer

Vern Nobles

Assistant Camera Operator

Kevin O'connell

Sound

Roy Orbison

Other

Dan Perri

Titles

Dewey Perrigo

Wardrobe

Frederick Peterson

Assistant Editor

H Lee Peterson

Assistant Editor

Roger Phenix

Sound

Todd Pike

Assistant Camera Operator

Christopher Porter

Gaffer

David Pultz

Color Timer

Bradford Ralston

Video Assist/Playback

Tom Randol

Production Assistant

Ricki Renna

Location Manager

Dave Reynolds

Sound Mixer

Keith Richard

Music Producer

Keith Richard

Music

Keith Richard

Other

Scott Richardson

Creative Consultant

Jaime Robbie Robertson

Music

Jaime Robbie Robertson

Creative Consultant

Rick Robertson

Camera Operator

Alan Rogan

Music

Linda Ronstadt

Other

Jane Rose

Associate Producer

Frank Ruttencutter

Camera Operator

Gil Samuelian

Other

Robert Schaper

Sound

Derek Scott

Assistant Camera Operator

Ralph Sepulveda

Assistant Editor

Phil Shipley

Music

Mark Slocombe

Music

Thelma Smith

Makeup

Curt Sobel

Music Editor

Albert Spevak

Associate Producer

Bruce Springsteen

Other

Joey Stampinato

Other

Oliver Stapleton

Director Of Photography

Oliver Stapleton

Other

Gary Stark

Grip

Karen I Stern

Assistant Editor

Bernie Stome

Music

Gary Swink

Best Boy

Jeff Tufano

Assistant Camera Operator

Dana Vandover

Props

Philip Alan Waters

Camera Operator

Lou Weinert

Assistant Camera Operator

Lucy Williamson

Makeup

Bill Winn

Sound Engineer

Dariusz Wolski

Assistant Camera Operator

William Youdelman

Other

Film Details

Also Known As
Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, Chuck Berry's Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll!, Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll!, Hail, Rock 'n' Roll
MPAA Rating
Release Date
1987
Distribution Company
UNITED INTERNATIONAL PICTURES (UIP)/UNIVERSAL PICTURES
Location
Hollywood, California, USA; Fox Theater, St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Cosmopolitan Club, St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Berry Park, Wentzville, Missouri, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 50m

Articles

Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n Roll - The Ultimate Collector's Edition on DVD


Film director Taylor Hackford cared a great deal about getting Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll to the screen, as the completed film is perhaps the best rock documentary ever. His subject is the seminal rock icon Chuck Berry, the slippery moving target that in 1987, thirty years into his career, was still active jetting around the country for profitable one-night stands. He rarely gave interviews, didn't like to reminisce about old times and could almost be called unsociable -- blasting into some town for a scheduled concert at the very last minute, collecting his cash up front, barely talking to the pick-up band during the show and then peeling away the moment he left the stage.

Hackford centered his film on Berry, rounded up all of his contemporaries, produced and filmed a giant show in St. Louis and even made the star a producer to elicit his cooperation. Getting Berry to play ball was apparently like pullling teeth, but Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll has plenty of great performances and unscripted "interaction" between Berry and his sometimes frustrated co-workers.

Music fans will be impressed by the hard music content in Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll. Hackford filmed Berry under controlled conditions with top-line talent to provide variety. There's nothing like Berry on stage -- he's professional, controlled and a gentleman. He gives the audience the razor-sharp music and spirited attitude they've come for. Hackford films a half-dozen full numbers with Eric Clapton, Etta James, Julian Lennon, Robert Cray, the Everly Brothers and Linda Ronstadt, all expertly recorded and beautifully covered with multiple cameras. By 1987 the MTV music cutting style had become dominant, but Hackford's editing serves the performances and not a director's storyboard.

Berry is a difficult cat to pin down in the interstitial interview segments. There are at least four kinds of interviews. In one he's "on" and performing, as when he shows us a warehouse with his collection of Cadillacs, which Berry refuses to sell because the dealers wouldn't give him enough money. That highlights a main theme of his personality, an acute awareness of business and money. After his modest beginnings, Berry seems intent on never being cheated or allowing himself to be sold cheaply. The second category is the remnants of failed interviews. Hackford uses every known device to get through Berry's defenses, as even making him a producer (probably so he wouldn't be "cheated" out of any profit from his story) doesn't prompt him to open up on camera. Berry's long-time business manager seems willing to talk, but Berry steps in and shuts down the interview. Hackford makes the mistake of asking a friendly personal question of Berry's wife, and that interview also ends in a big hurry. The film finally strikes pay dirt when Berry sits with his parents, whom he obviously adores. Mother reminds him of some childhood stories and he turns off his defenses, revealing much more of his warmth.

Hackford next teams up Berry with his contemporaries Bo Diddley and Little Richard. Richard goes easy on the hipster overkill and soon engages in a conversation about the problems of black musicians getting into the white-dominated radio world of 1954 and 1955. Berry is not hostile, but he chimes in mostly to talk about being swindled in his first recording contracts. Interestingly, Diddley and Richard end up saying that they owe a lot of their success to white imitators that got the kids hooked on Rock and Roll, and Dick Clark, who insisted on putting black performers on TV. Berry is quick to point out that they couldn't interact with the white teens or be seen dancing or moving, but that TV exposure was all they needed to break into the national radio game.

One of the few times that Berry opens up by himself is when he visits an old dance hall and remembers how he finally decided that he could drop his various day jobs. He's acutely aware that a lot of people have made fortunes from his talent, and isn't particularly happy about it.

Hackford assembles a stellar list of interviewees. Eric Clapton remarks on what Berry means to his generation of British rockers; the film opens with a video clip of John Lennon giddily introducing Berry as a God and shouting Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll! An un-billed Bruce Springsteen tells a great story about playing backup for Chuck Berry at a local club, an experience inter-cut with Hackford's camera following Berry to a similar one-night engagement. Although committed to the feature shoot, Berry walked out to take the gig, forcing Hackford to shut down and follow to get on film what he can. Springsteen explains that when Berry travels, he demands a cash payment up front with a thousand-dollar surcharge. The local promoter is responsible for assembling a backup band to accompany Berry --- with no rehearsal, not even a discussion beforehand. They just have to be able to "play Chuck Berry songs." If the band is good, Berry rebates the $1,000 surcharge to the promoter. Springsteen remembers Berry walking on stage late, telling the band something useless like "good luck" and launching into his songs, while the musicians try to figure out what to do, what key to play in, etc.

This brings us to the most telling material, a set of interviews and behind the scenes coverage with the famous Keith Richards, the film's music producer. Richards took on the job because he thought many of Berry's personal shows were terrible. Berry economized by traveling solo with his guitar but was at the mercy of whatever backup guitarists and drummers showed up to play with him. Although 80% of the show was his guitar licks and energetic presence, back backup made for some awful nights.

Keith Richard gets Berry into a rehearsal session for the big concerts and has nothing but trouble, as the old icon isn't used to discussing his music with anyone. For a while it seems like perfect harmony as he teaches Richard how to get a particular 'Berry sound' into a guitar riff, a great bit of cooperation that anyone can admire. But then Berry starts dragging his feet, saying things like "don't touch my amp" and preventing Richard from orchestrating a superior backup. Berry isn't having any, and the mood heats up. Later in a solo interview, Keith Richard wonders if the effort was all worthwhile but has to admit that he's proud that Berry "never knocked him down." Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll is an intense experience. Taylor Hackford has to work hard, but he brings us a portrait of a very private Rock icon.

Image and Universal's four-disc Ultimate Collector's Edition of Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll is a monster of a set with hours of bonus material spread across three extra discs. The film itself is beautifully transferred, remixed and remastered with a beautiful enhanced widescreen image and great sound in both DTS, 5.1 and 2.0 stereo.

The extras utilize hours of unused interview and rehearsal material that are meant to appeal to the serious vintage Rock fan but also constitute a valuable research resource. Taylor Hackford hosts all of the sections. One full hour is a fully finished and mixed collection of rehearsal footage with Berry and his 'guests' including Richards, Clapton, Johnnie Johnson, Chuck Lavell and Etta James. The Bo Diddley/Little Richard/Chuck Berry joint interview material is presented in a much longer and more complete format. Hackford also hosts a segment dealing with how difficult it was to work with Berry in a filmmaking capacity.

Robbie Robertson puts in an appearance with Berry going through a scrapbook of memories that survived a 1970 office fire. A shorter feature gives us "Chuckisms," a glossary of Berry sayings.

The monster extra is a 3.5-hour assemblage of individual interview material with Bo Diddley, the Everly Brothers, Rob Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis and several others. That should be enough for anybody.

For more information about Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, visit Image Entertainment. To order Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, go to TCM Shopping.

by Glenn Erickson
Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n Roll - The Ultimate Collector's Edition On Dvd

Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n Roll - The Ultimate Collector's Edition on DVD

Film director Taylor Hackford cared a great deal about getting Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll to the screen, as the completed film is perhaps the best rock documentary ever. His subject is the seminal rock icon Chuck Berry, the slippery moving target that in 1987, thirty years into his career, was still active jetting around the country for profitable one-night stands. He rarely gave interviews, didn't like to reminisce about old times and could almost be called unsociable -- blasting into some town for a scheduled concert at the very last minute, collecting his cash up front, barely talking to the pick-up band during the show and then peeling away the moment he left the stage. Hackford centered his film on Berry, rounded up all of his contemporaries, produced and filmed a giant show in St. Louis and even made the star a producer to elicit his cooperation. Getting Berry to play ball was apparently like pullling teeth, but Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll has plenty of great performances and unscripted "interaction" between Berry and his sometimes frustrated co-workers. Music fans will be impressed by the hard music content in Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll. Hackford filmed Berry under controlled conditions with top-line talent to provide variety. There's nothing like Berry on stage -- he's professional, controlled and a gentleman. He gives the audience the razor-sharp music and spirited attitude they've come for. Hackford films a half-dozen full numbers with Eric Clapton, Etta James, Julian Lennon, Robert Cray, the Everly Brothers and Linda Ronstadt, all expertly recorded and beautifully covered with multiple cameras. By 1987 the MTV music cutting style had become dominant, but Hackford's editing serves the performances and not a director's storyboard. Berry is a difficult cat to pin down in the interstitial interview segments. There are at least four kinds of interviews. In one he's "on" and performing, as when he shows us a warehouse with his collection of Cadillacs, which Berry refuses to sell because the dealers wouldn't give him enough money. That highlights a main theme of his personality, an acute awareness of business and money. After his modest beginnings, Berry seems intent on never being cheated or allowing himself to be sold cheaply. The second category is the remnants of failed interviews. Hackford uses every known device to get through Berry's defenses, as even making him a producer (probably so he wouldn't be "cheated" out of any profit from his story) doesn't prompt him to open up on camera. Berry's long-time business manager seems willing to talk, but Berry steps in and shuts down the interview. Hackford makes the mistake of asking a friendly personal question of Berry's wife, and that interview also ends in a big hurry. The film finally strikes pay dirt when Berry sits with his parents, whom he obviously adores. Mother reminds him of some childhood stories and he turns off his defenses, revealing much more of his warmth. Hackford next teams up Berry with his contemporaries Bo Diddley and Little Richard. Richard goes easy on the hipster overkill and soon engages in a conversation about the problems of black musicians getting into the white-dominated radio world of 1954 and 1955. Berry is not hostile, but he chimes in mostly to talk about being swindled in his first recording contracts. Interestingly, Diddley and Richard end up saying that they owe a lot of their success to white imitators that got the kids hooked on Rock and Roll, and Dick Clark, who insisted on putting black performers on TV. Berry is quick to point out that they couldn't interact with the white teens or be seen dancing or moving, but that TV exposure was all they needed to break into the national radio game. One of the few times that Berry opens up by himself is when he visits an old dance hall and remembers how he finally decided that he could drop his various day jobs. He's acutely aware that a lot of people have made fortunes from his talent, and isn't particularly happy about it. Hackford assembles a stellar list of interviewees. Eric Clapton remarks on what Berry means to his generation of British rockers; the film opens with a video clip of John Lennon giddily introducing Berry as a God and shouting Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll! An un-billed Bruce Springsteen tells a great story about playing backup for Chuck Berry at a local club, an experience inter-cut with Hackford's camera following Berry to a similar one-night engagement. Although committed to the feature shoot, Berry walked out to take the gig, forcing Hackford to shut down and follow to get on film what he can. Springsteen explains that when Berry travels, he demands a cash payment up front with a thousand-dollar surcharge. The local promoter is responsible for assembling a backup band to accompany Berry --- with no rehearsal, not even a discussion beforehand. They just have to be able to "play Chuck Berry songs." If the band is good, Berry rebates the $1,000 surcharge to the promoter. Springsteen remembers Berry walking on stage late, telling the band something useless like "good luck" and launching into his songs, while the musicians try to figure out what to do, what key to play in, etc. This brings us to the most telling material, a set of interviews and behind the scenes coverage with the famous Keith Richards, the film's music producer. Richards took on the job because he thought many of Berry's personal shows were terrible. Berry economized by traveling solo with his guitar but was at the mercy of whatever backup guitarists and drummers showed up to play with him. Although 80% of the show was his guitar licks and energetic presence, back backup made for some awful nights. Keith Richard gets Berry into a rehearsal session for the big concerts and has nothing but trouble, as the old icon isn't used to discussing his music with anyone. For a while it seems like perfect harmony as he teaches Richard how to get a particular 'Berry sound' into a guitar riff, a great bit of cooperation that anyone can admire. But then Berry starts dragging his feet, saying things like "don't touch my amp" and preventing Richard from orchestrating a superior backup. Berry isn't having any, and the mood heats up. Later in a solo interview, Keith Richard wonders if the effort was all worthwhile but has to admit that he's proud that Berry "never knocked him down." Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll is an intense experience. Taylor Hackford has to work hard, but he brings us a portrait of a very private Rock icon. Image and Universal's four-disc Ultimate Collector's Edition of Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll is a monster of a set with hours of bonus material spread across three extra discs. The film itself is beautifully transferred, remixed and remastered with a beautiful enhanced widescreen image and great sound in both DTS, 5.1 and 2.0 stereo. The extras utilize hours of unused interview and rehearsal material that are meant to appeal to the serious vintage Rock fan but also constitute a valuable research resource. Taylor Hackford hosts all of the sections. One full hour is a fully finished and mixed collection of rehearsal footage with Berry and his 'guests' including Richards, Clapton, Johnnie Johnson, Chuck Lavell and Etta James. The Bo Diddley/Little Richard/Chuck Berry joint interview material is presented in a much longer and more complete format. Hackford also hosts a segment dealing with how difficult it was to work with Berry in a filmmaking capacity. Robbie Robertson puts in an appearance with Berry going through a scrapbook of memories that survived a 1970 office fire. A shorter feature gives us "Chuckisms," a glossary of Berry sayings. The monster extra is a 3.5-hour assemblage of individual interview material with Bo Diddley, the Everly Brothers, Rob Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis and several others. That should be enough for anybody. For more information about Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, visit Image Entertainment. To order Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, go to TCM Shopping. by Glenn Erickson

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States on Video April 7, 1988

Released in United States September 18, 1987 (Shown at Toronto Festival of Festival September 18, 1987.)

Released in United States October 1987 (Shown at New York Film Festival October 3 & 4, 1987.)

Released in United States Fall October 8, 1987

Released in United States October 9, 1987 (Los Angeles)

Released in United States Fall October 8, 1987

Released in United States February 1988

Released in United States November 1987

Released in United States October 1987

Released in United States October 9, 1987

Released in United States on Video April 7, 1988

Released in United States September 18, 1987

Shown at Berlin Film Festival February 1988.

Shown at London Film Festival November 1987.

Shown at New York Film Festival October 3 & 4, 1987.

Shown at Toronto Festival of Festival September 18, 1987.

Principal photography began September 29, 1986.

Began shooting October 9, 1986.

Completed shooting October 16, 1986.

Released in United States February 1988 (Shown at Berlin Film Festival February 1988.)

Released in United States November 1987 (Shown at London Film Festival November 1987.)