being edited. The edited interview was altered to the extent that some of the qeustions that were later (in the editing room) inserted around the original answers (I gave to different questions) were replies to a subject
TV: Beautiful and live
never raised originally!
It‘s like taking the head from one photo and fitting it to the body of another. Then who is who? Neither is real or true. That is my opinion of interviews (recorded ones) that are all edited.
TV interview. Okay. Beautiful and live. also a challenge of wits between the “ask” and the “shall be given." plus people can form their own opinion ofthe truth. whether they want it or not. from visual expressions and so forth.
Seeing how all this was done. I revamped my shrewdness and only
allowed visual-sound consultations that were too costly to conduct just for the audio and thus likely not to be edited. I saw to it that they wouldn't edit it by waving my hand before my face while answering questions to make it too obvious if they cut the scene to insert or omit anything. Interviews that are taken down in notes or written from memory are less real than taped ones because if quotes are not taken down word for word. they are reconstructed under the inﬂuence ofthe writer‘s opinions. But again. it must be that some people don‘t know or even care about the truth or what is real anymore. If that be so. why do journalists bother to seek interviews at all. particularly nonrecorded ones? The inverviewer could do his thing on it anyway. and usually does. I know many who did and for a long while this caused me to renounce interviewing. I told them that I was
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not interested in dramatics. only music. and I wrote my own.
The rejection of interviews prompted the reputation that I was negative to them and interviewers. The rumor spread quickly throughout the business. Reporter would come to the dressing room of a concert and start their salutations with. “Hi. Chuck. I know you don‘t like to interview. but . . I would try to explain to them what I‘d learned about habits they followed. They would declare they were not like that and if I would just answer a few questions. they'd be satisfied. Sometimes I would yield. then later. when reading the clipping. the same ol‘ sheet would be hitting the fan club.
Sometimes the questions asked were routine and could hardly be answered with new or exciting information. In such cases. with my answers being quite similar to those
in previous interviews. the writer would juice up the story. likely under pressure of his superiors. Actions and comments would be described that I‘d never done or made. As a result I limited myselfto the same repetitious material. These similar stories published about “Chuck Berry" were not satisfying to the more professional interviewers whom I‘d begun to recognize by then. Consequently. the pros pressed for new data that l freely came forth with. due to their respect and consideration. The student reporters and small-town reporters were mainly interested in returning with something different on Chuck Berry. They in turn sought juicy stuff on the personal side like controversies. the jail sentences. marriage versus divorce. and would welcome anything on the kinky side pertaining to just what made the man tick. These little interviewers seemed not to care about the manner in which they obtained their story as long as they could get some point or statement to launch their preplanned ingredients.
Interviewers have asked me questions on topics I could not for the love ofJesus connect with music. They want details on my hobbies. fantasies. frolics. foods. measurements. father. and family. Other than discussing my daughter Ingrid‘s activities in the music field. I wonder why would anyone want to know I am married with a total of four children and have tinkered around with a hundred thousand dollars' worth of video. Why would they be interested in finding out I have had a desire since childhood to be a houseboy on a southern plantation. preferably during the Civil War? (Don‘t ask me why.) Why would they want to know I am an ardent girl watcher? That I love the taste ofchili. strawberries. and oranges. wear a size 42 jacket. 32/34 trousers. and in terms ofbest or preferred, have no favorite songs or artists? Do they need to be informed ofmy everlasting underwear to maintain an interest in the music I have created?
There were times when the press was so determined to get something on my incarceration background to add to and/or distort, that at first I merely mummed up about it. Later I began to request that they refrain from digging for information about it because it did not involve music.
My desire to write an autobiography originated during the early sixties when. to my surprise. the reform-school episode of fifteen and a halfyears back was elaborated on more abundantly than the allegations I was then confronting. I knew it was I who had to write it if the truth was ever to be known.
(c) 1987 lsalee Publishing.
This extract lrom “Chuck Berry: The Autobiography’ is published with kind permission from Faber & Faber. The book will be available lrom 8 Feb, priced £9.95.
The lilm ‘Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n’ Roll’, a tribute to Chuck's sixtieth birthday, is a Delilah Films Production, directed by Taylor Hacktord and released by Universal Pictures
The List 5 — 18 February 1988 9‘