Chuck Berry Recording New Album

Legendary guitarist Chuck Berry is recording a new album, his first with new material in 20 years, in a St. Louis studio in celebration of his recent 75th birthday. Berry tells Billboard he hopes that

Legendary guitarist Chuck Berry is recording a new album, his first with new material in 20 years, in a St. Louis studio in celebration of his recent 75th birthday. Berry tells Billboard he hopes that an album will be completed and released before the end of the year, promising new versions of some of his biggest hits, as well as new tunes.

Asked why he has recorded so sporadically in recent years, Berry admits, "It's laziness, or after you've had so much success, you get slack on the ability and the initiative, you know? And it's not right! It's my profession -- it's what I should be doing."

The album is being recorded on Pro Tools digital software at Four Seasons Media Productions in St. Louis. "That's a big change," says Berry of the migration from magnetic tape to computer-based Pro Tools. "I've done 30 hours there already, and I'm going to finish the record there. It's great, really up to date, and brand-new."

Forty-six years ago, Berry queried Muddy Waters, following the latter's performance at the Palladium in Chicago, as to the possibility of recording his music for commercial release. Waters referred him to Leonard Chess of Chess Records, and only days later, Berry, with pianist Johnnie Johnson and drummer Eddie Hardy, were making history with "Roll Over Beethoven," "Maybellene," and "Wee Wee Hours." At 75, Berry's enthusiasm for recording is clearly re-energized. "I want this to be like no other record I've ever put out," he says.

As previously reported, Berry celebrated his birthday with an Oct. 18 concert in St. Louis, featuring Little Richard and the Duke Robillard Band.