Taylor Hackford: 'Chuck Berry was the most difficult movie star'


Filmmaker Taylor Hackford has remembered Chuck Berry as the "greatest creative force" in rock 'n' roll, although the late legend was also the "most difficult" movie star he has ever worked with.

The music icon, 90, passed away in his native Missouri on Saturday (18Mar17), and celebrities including Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, and Lenny Kravitz promptly took to social media to pay tribute.

Helen Mirren's husband Hackford has since also mourned the loss with a touching note online, but it was his recollection of Berry as a contentious collaborator which has caught fans' attention.

The pair worked together on 1987 concert documentary Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, which detailed two 1986 gigs in St. Louis, Missouri held to celebrate Berry's 60th birthday.

"Chuck Berry was the greatest creative force in the birth of Rock & Roll - that's a fact," Hackford began. "That's why we all came together in 1986 to celebrate him in my film, 'Hail, Hail, Rock & Roll': Keith Richards (Music Director), Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, Linda Ronstadt, Julian Lennon, Etta James, Robbie Robertson and Bruce Springsteen."

"But Chuck was complicated - in fact, he was the most difficult 'movie star' I've even (sic) worked with," he continued. "It was like trying to ride a Brahma Bull - you can try to ride him, but he's going to buck you off."

Despite the complications Berry caused during the shoot, Hackford insists he always remained a fan, because he was such a unique and pioneering artist.

"But still, I loved Chuck, because he was the 'real deal,' an original genius who created a true American Art Form," he declared. "Why shouldn't he be difficult."

The Oscar-winning director went on to hail the Johnny B. Goode hitmaker's musical talents as a singer, guitarist, and especially as a songwriter: "His compositions were miles above anything else written in that decade," he wrote. "Of course, I'm not the first to say that - John Lennon, Jagger & Richards, Bob Dylan all said that they wouldn't have here without CB. A few years ago Prince told me the same thing."

Concluding his piece, Hackford added, "What I'm most happy about is that we were able to capture Chuck when he still had all pistons firing - an auto allusion that's perfect, because no one could write a song about America's love (of) the automobile better than Chuck - or a song about the sexiness of a 16-year-old girl, or a love song about a Havana Moon."

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