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The Concert of three rock legends Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Chuck Berry took place on Sunday, July 26th, 1998 in a larger than life skating rink in Budapest, Hungary

by Miroslav Schossberger

A few minutes after 6 pm the musicians of Jerry lee Lewis All Star Band led by guitarist James Burton took the stage in front of 15.000 enthusiastic fans including our fourty strong party from Yugoslavia. Waiting for the Killer to come out of the wings the band played several of his songs stressing on "It'll Be Me"-And I'll be lookong for you Jeery Lee. Than after a thunderous intro Killers daughter got to sing, showing lack of willpower to part from the mike. I was a little anoyed with his log buildup, very irritated to have to aplaude to everything remotly connected with the man. So when I thought the new act is going to be that TV evangelist cousin of his with his teardrops routine Mr. Jerry Lee Lewis emerged into the light. He was decked in the very outfit from the cover of his "Youngblood" CD. His hair was longer and he really looked like some plantation owner from the "Gone With The Wind". "Hound dog", "Chantilly Lace", " Breathless" followed bu "Whole Lotta Shakin" and the all important:"Great Balls of fire". In 35 short minutes it was all over. The only gain since I saw him in Belgrade in 1990 was better presentation both visual and musical mainly owing to the fact that he had a real piano this time around, rather than some electric sythisizer bogus job. So Jerry Lee kicked the stool backwards, sat on the keyboards, showed off his shiny black boots and mercelesly left the stage. This was all so much different from the time he was ready to set the piano on fire if anybody was to follow him especially Chuck Berry.

James Van Eaton Jerry's drummer from the fifties used to listen Little Richard records featuring Earl Plamer on drums just to get himself into a mood to play. Today on the stage with Little Richard you can see two funky drummers and a king size backing band. Little Richard was poized from the vey beginning to cast a long cool shadow over Jerry Lee's performance and he did that right upon his entry.As soon as he emerged onto the stage he climbed (helped by two other guys, to be frank)the piano and made sure that all Budapest sees his star spangled tunic. Right there from the top of the piano he invited the audience to join him in a sceaming session. Mr. Richard has a wast repertoire of screaming kind, so the exhange of screams with the audience took several minutes before he even played a note. Only when he concluded that this primal scream thearapy did it's trick he winked at the drummers to start a thunderous intro.

After a few songs he invited the crowd to join him at the stage. Now he made two mistakes here. Hungarians are kind of a shy folk and they know their security guards so no one wanted to risk getting something fisty in the face. Lemme tell you, these guys were NAZIS! So his first invitation had no response, despite the fact that I was balancing on the fence firmly held by one of them. Than Little Richard started inviting Arabs, Jews, English, French and all nations he could come up with but still no response.(the crowd was almost all Hungarian) We all know that he uses this gimmick in order to live up to his self proclaimed role of God's ambasador of piece bringing together different nations with the power of the music.So he notices this security guy strangling me and gives him a hypnotic look saying: "It's O.K. For you all to come to the stage".Just as soon as he said that I felt that this zombi is lettin' go of me so I rushed up there, which started the avalanche of people wanting to do the same. Than we all had ourselves a ball. The only time during his act that Little Richard slowed sown the pace of music was when he sang "Bluberry Hill" which was a cue for his roadies to disribute the book " The Road That Leads To Jesus"complete with the "autographed" pictures of the Bronze Liberace.

Just as soon as he finished the religious bit, a black go-go dancer started dancing on the stage. He was of a dubiusus sexuality for he was dressed in white lace with the piece sigh sawn to his behind. After an hour and a half when he exausted his top 20 repertoire, Little richar slyly sang a few verses of "Whole Lotta Shakin", boyshy hinting with his eyes towards backstage where Jerry Lee was supposed to be (angry). Than he made this all serius expresion and adressed the crowd in a menner of a Parliament speaKER:"WHAM BOPA A LU BAH ?" "WHAM BAM BOOM"-said 15.000 voices. Well he kept this dialoge for a while when he announced: "And that IS how the Rock and Roll started in the first place", before storming into closing his gig with "TuttiFrutti".

As we all know Chuck Berry does not bother with having a permanent backing band. Part of his musical legacy are countles bands that can play his hits and could be rented anywhere from Amsterdam to Zanzibar. This time too, it was a local band which gave a solid backing so the man in red bell bottom pants could improvize his way around the main theme punching in a Johnny B.riff from time to time. His performcnce was slower than expected but that proved as an advantage for the whole music had a strong bluesy feel to it. At times Mr. Berry was praising his piano player calling him Beethoven, Schubert and Bach. "Bach!"-Exclaimed Chuck Berry-"I knew him". This prooves my suspicion that Chuck Berry may be slightly older than he claims to be. Despite being old enough to know Bach in person Mr. Berry called on to a security guy and said -"gimme me five girls". The security guy got on his walkie talkie and alarmed 20 other sec. guys - "Mr. Berry wants five girls". Now it's all getting funny. Each sec. guy is bringing five girls. Chuck Berry gives a look to this ensamble of high heels and than a worried one towards the cable of his guitar. Knowing the cable won't last long he gives a fantastic medley of his hits after which he asks the crowd " Are you all happy?" He got a screaming positive answer which assured him that his Rock and Roll mission in Hungary was a sucessfull one. Then he bowed and returned back to legend.

Miroslav Schossberger - ggrdic@EUnet.yu