Chuck Berry Collapses At Congress Theatre Show

CHICAGO (STMW) – Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Famer Chuck Berry collapsed over his keyboards about an hour into his “Winter Dance” show before a standing-room only crowd Saturday night at the Congress Theater.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Michele Fiore Reports

The 84-year-old Berry’s head lay on a keyboard, and he didn’t move for a couple of minutes before he was helped off stage by three people shortly before 10:30 p.m. He returned 20 minutes later after most of the auditorium had cleared out. He tuned up his guitar and tried to play before telling the audience he had no strength. He then did a variation of his legendary duck walk off stage.

A Chicago Fire Department ambulance was called to the theater on the Northwest Side, and emergency crews gave Berry a check-up at the scene, Fire Department Spokesman Joe Roccasalva said. But he said he “felt better” and signed a refusal for further medical treatment, Roccasalva said.

chuck2 Chuck Berry Collapses At Congress Theatre Show

Chuck Berry performs Saturday night at the Congress Theater before the show was cut short. (Bart Shore)

Berry flew into Chicago after performing two New Year’s Eve shows at B.B. King’s Blues Club and Grill in New York City. The St. Louis-based legend was having trouble connecting with his Chicago-based pick-up band all night.

In a rare moment earlier in the show, Berry even cast aside his guitar and took over the keyboards to play “Let it Rock.” He performed his best-known hits like “Roll Over Beethoven” in slow, disjointed tempos and when he hit stride with more appropriate understated material like “Everyday I Have the Blues,” he stopped halfway through the song. The only tune he was able to muscle through was his 1972 novelty hit, “My Ding-A-Ling,” which featured a call and response with his adoring fans.

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

  • Kevin

    Worst concert expereince I have ever had. Chuck sounded drunk or high.

    • lisa lisa

      Kevin, he’s old and ill you idiot! have some respect for yourself!

    • Phil

      Did you see the movie “Hail Hail Rock and Roll”? Sounds like standard operating procedure for a Chuck Berry gig.

  • Huey

    You knew he was in his 80’s went you went to the concert. would you have felt better if he died? you could always say you went to his Last concert.

  • R

    hope people get a refund or something…

  • ron smith

    He’s 84 for christs sake , give it a rest haters

  • S

    I was there. He really did seem like he was drunk. He was absolutely unable to remember what he was doing from minute to minute. I know he’s old and know how old people can get easily confused but this seemed like more than that. The band gave a valiant effort of trying follow him but it was impossible. The show consisted of off key music(?) and most of time spent on tuning his guitar like it was the guitars fault.

  • Buddy

    This is why many choose to retire while on top of their game instead of a slow excruciating fade into oblivion. Someone should tell chuck it’s time. It’s not like Hef, he got saved by Viagra or else he’d be in the same boat.

  • lynn

    much ado about nothing. thank you very much

  • Diz

    Who the heck are you to judge an 84 year old Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,r to be drunk or high or just plain exhausted from 2 shows the night before in New York? Respect the man for who and what he is and has done to make YOU feel good in the past! Shame on you for being so judgmental!

  • Bob-Ho

    Sounds like a great show. He plays just like my friends and me, drunk, loud, and needing medical help when done. Hail! Hail! the Great-Great-Grandfather of Rock & Roll!

  • Dray

    Man when the body is going threw exhaustion all body functions are affected and the mind is very confused and age ain’t got nothing to do with it.

  • Chuck Berry Recovering After Collapse « CBS Chicago – Breaking News, Sports, Weather, Traffic, and the Best of Chicago

    […] Berry, 84, collapsed Saturday night while playing at the Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave. His head lay on a keyboard, and he didn’t move for a couple of minutes before he was helped off stage by three people shortly before 10:30 p.m. […]

  • S

    While I am happy that Mr. Berry has had a complete recovery from his inability to perform on Jan 1, I am still very disappointed. I am also a senior and I work for minimum wage to just get by. I felt it was worth a weeks pay to see the great Chuck Berry. I don’t know who booked an 84 year old man for 3 concerts in two cities in a 24 hour period. I certainly wasn’t aware of that. What I do know is when they knew he was ill, why not cancel the show so fans had a chance of a refund? To pay $100 a ticket for no show in the disgustingly filthy Congress Theater is not right. Now call me a hater if you must, but I know I do not hate, I’m just very disappointed

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live