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‘Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll’ Director Remembers ‘Diabolical’ Chuck Berry


Filmmaker Taylor Hackford, who directed Chuck Berry‘s classic 1987 documentary Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll, penned a tribute to Berry following the rock legend’s death Saturday.

“He was the most important figure in rock ‘n’ roll. Every rock ‘n’ roll guy starts by playing Chuck Berry songs,” Hackford wrote for the Hollywood Reporter.

In the remembrance, Hackford reminisces about the “difficult” shoot for Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll and how Berry would often conspire against his own documentary.

“Chuck was more difficult than any movie star I’ve ever worked with,” Hackford wrote. “More complicated, more difficult, more diabolical. Diabolical is a fitting term. At the same time, I totally loved him.”

Hackford reaffirmed the story about how – despite Universal giving Berry $500,000 for the rights to his music in the documentary – the guitarist refused to partake in the first day of shooting unless the producer physically came up with more money, which was delivered to him in a brown bag.

“I love Chuck Berry, but every day was a negotiation. It is not an exaggeration to say he was the most difficult star I have ever known, as complicated and talented as anybody I’ve ever met. He let me inside his life — up to a point,” Hackford added. The director would later helm another film about a music legend, the Ray Charles biopic Ray.

The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood, the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson and the Beatles’ Ringo Starr were among those to pay tribute to Berry following his death Saturday.

“Chuck Berry defined rock ‘n roll guitar, he was a fantastic performer, but more importantly, he was the first great rock ‘n roll songwriter,” Hackford added. “All of them — the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Prince — they’ve all said they wouldn’t be there without Chuck Berry. And he did it over and over again.”

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