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Rock giants leave imprint in Hawai'i

by Chris Alcantara, assoc. editor


Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis have nothing left to prove to fans or to the music industry. When it comes to platinum albums, selling out shows, or leaving their mark in the music world, these artists could have made up the phrase, “been there and done that.” So why do they continue traveling and performing well into their 60s and 70s? The love of the music, and nothing was more evident as the trio blew the roof off of the Blaisdell Arena Oct. 25 at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Supershow presented by Tom Moffatt Productions.

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The tone of the concert was set early as a fan from the first few rows questioned Jerry Lee Lewis, who opened the concert, about his ability to still rock as he sat down at the piano to start the show.
“ Can I rock?” said Lewis. “I think my track record speaks for itself,” he could have been speaking for all three of the artists performing that night.

He then immediately broke into his trademark blistering piano playing and proceeded to belt out lyrics with the same vibrancy and hint of country twang that made him famous.

Playing timeless classics such as “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” Lewis had a few members of the somewhat subdued crowd dancing in the isles and throwing leis to him up on stage. Always known for being cocky and rude to fans and media, Lewis showed his other side that night in sharing laughs through his many friendly exchanges with the crowd. He ended his 50-minute set by standing up and kicking the piano bench back, and punishing the keys, before throwing up his hands and walking off stage to a standing ovation.

After a short intermission, Little Richard’s amusingly energetic band jammed for 5-10 minutes before the second legend of the night came out—Little Richard himself—with a smooth shuffle that foreshadowed what would come in his set. He glided toward the piano, climbed on top, and raised his arms up drawing more and more cheers from the crowd. He then stepped down, sat on the piano bench, and wasted no time busting out with “Good Golly Miss Molly.”

Little Richard’s animated personality shined through the many stories he stopped to tell the crowd about the origins of certain songs, and when he ordered security to bring up two people from every nationality in the building to dance on stage. One story was about washing dishes back in the 1950s and realizing his hands were “too pretty” to stick in one more dirty pot. He didn’t want to wash anymore, so when his fellow employees told him to, he replied, “ a-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom.”

“ I didn’t know what it meant,” he said. “But I liked the way it sounded,” and the famous song “Tuttie Fruiti-Aw Rootie” was born.

He played all the hits including “Lucille” and “Keep a Knockin’” while breaking into random “Little Richard screams” and signing posters and throwing them into the crowd. He played for close to an hour and promised to set up a booth for more autographs after the show.

“ I’ll be 71 in two weeks,” said Little Richard. “And I’m still so pretty.”

After another short intermission, the lights lowered and the stage came back to life as a bass player, drummer, and a piano player took their places. Then, out of the darkness, with a cool swagger step and a strum of the guitar, came none other than Chuck Berry. Sporting a flashy red shirt as fiery as his guitar playing, Berry opened his set by telling the crowd, “Hope ya’ll don’t mind, I going to start off with a little bit of the blues.” He began with a funky blues riff that wailed the pain and sorrow of the song from his guitar with effortless bending of the strings.

He then attempted to take the crowd on a ride of rock ‘n’ roll history with classics like “Roll over Beethoven” and “Sweet Little 16,” but the sound system was failing sending Berry to the sound director’s board numerous times to try and fix the problem.Though frustrated by problems out of his control, Berry put on an amazing show highlighted by his solo performance of the crowd favorite “My Dingle Ling” which evoked laughs and of reassurances from the crowd.

As the show came to a close, there was a buzz about the crowd. They knew what they had just witnessed; musical genius, rock ‘n’ roll from its creators, the stuff that legends are made of, and most of all good music.


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