Since the news broke of Chuck Berry’s death, on Saturday, at the age of 90, I’ve noticed many New Jerseyans reminiscing on Facebook about his 2007 performance at the Union County MusicFest at Nomahegan Park in Cranford.
I was there, reviewing for The Star-Ledger, and can attest to the fact that it was an uneven but lively and memorable show. You can see yourself on the video below, uploaded by William McMeekan Jr. (to see just Berry’s set, start at the 2:57 mark; it goes to 55:56).
I assume this was Berry’s last performance in New Jersey. If anyone knows of a later show, please let me know in the comments section below.
Berry, who was 80 at the time, was scheduled to take the stage at the un-rock’n’roll-like time of 12:30 p.m. He was the second of five acts on the free event’s main stage. The Smithereens, Fountains of Wayne and Live followed him, and there was more music — by The Alarm, The English Beat, Apples in Stereo and The Old Ceremony — on a smaller second stage.
According to my preview article, members of The Smithereens were hoping to join him for a number or two, but this did not end up happening.
“I don’t know that Elvis is really the king,” The Smithereens’ Pat DiNizio told me in an interview for that preview. “I think Chuck is probably the king. That’s not meant to offend. …. I mean, there were a lot of kings. The Beatles were kings. Buddy Holly was a king.
“To share the same stage with Chuck, whether we’re backing him or not, is a tremendous honor. To be in the same room or the same vicinity as Chuck is a dream come true.”
I’ve looked for my review, but alas, it does not seem to exist online.
Anyway, enjoy the video!