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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

This Is Chuck Berry Radio



Our Chuck Berry memorial edition of This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl is now available for download: http://westcottradio.org/archive/rock_n_roll_radio_2017-03-19.mp3

This week's show felt like something we had to do. I was scheduled to take this week off; I had travel plans during the day, and didn't want to push myself getting back in time (and with sufficient energy) to do the Sunday night show. Dana intended to do just a two-hour solo show in my absence. But when I got home from work on Saturday night, my daughter told me that Chuck Berry had passed. And my wife told me that I really needed to do the show, to pay tribute to the man who is synonymous with rock 'n' roll.

She was right. I contacted Dana on Sunday morning, just a little before I hit the road, and we agreed to do the tribute. Listen, man: there wouldn't be any such thing as rock 'n' roll radio shows if not for Chuck Berry. We could not in good conscience even call ourselves a rock 'n' roll radio show if we failed to honor the man and his legacy at this time.

I think we did a good job. We played 63 songs in just over three hours, including 38 Chuck Berry tracks, eight Chuck Berry covers by other artists, six theoretically original tunes we thought were specifically influenced by Chuck Berry (two of which had a judge, um...certify the influence), and also eleven songs we just felt like mixing in, because that's part of what a rock 'n' roll radio show does, too. You can view the playlist and my closing arguments here, and we invite you to listen to the show here.

Me? I've been listening to some Chuck Berry. And I'm overdue for another screening of American Hot Wax, the 1978 biopic of legendary DJ Alan Freed, which included spots by Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis portraying themselves. The film is heavily fictionalized, sanitized, often little more than a pack of lies...and fucking great. Just great. I see all the liberties it takes, the gloss it applies to a once-true story, and I marvel at the point where it enters the realm of science fiction, as the notoriously miserly Berry agrees to perform for free. I forgive all of this because the movie somehow gets the spirit exactly, unerringly right. It feels right. It celebrates the feeling I have inside for rock 'n' roll, for this music that has meant so much to me in my life. And none of it happens without Chuck Berry.

So go, Johnny, go. Rock 'n' roll's been pretty good to me. I guess I'll do this one for rock 'n' roll.

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