KISS’ Gene Simmons pays tearful tribute to Chuck Berry at his funeral
‘He broke down the barriers’
Not having been scheduled to speak, the rock veteran spent most of the service at the back of the concert hall, until he was urged to give a speech, in which he commended Berry for ‘breaking down barriers,’ through his music.
Fans were able to attend an open casket viewing on Sunday before a private funeral for family, friends and musicians, including Simmons. Letters from Bill Clinton and Paul McCartney were also read during the service.
Voice breaking, Simmons addressed the audience, showing gratitude for his sunglasses masking his face, confessing that behind them there were ‘real tears.’
- Read more: RIP Chuck Berry – the NME obituary
“Look at what Chuck Berry and his music has done,” said Simmons. “I see white faces in the audience. When Chuck first started that would never have happened. He broke down the barriers, made all kinds of peoples’ hearts and minds open up to the idea that we all belong to the same people.”
The frontman admitted that he had never had the opportunity to meet Berry in life, but felt he could not let the day go by without ‘coming here and honouring him,’ before going on to add that, without Berry, ‘I wouldn’t be here.’
Sharing his own childhood experiences, Simmons spoke about the Civil Rights Movement, activist Martin Luther King, and yet how Berry “changed more little white boys’ and white girls’ lives just by making them move like this.”
He added: “Although I never heard Chuck either talk about it in his lyrics, or in interviews, or on television, he was breaking down barriers that nobody suspected.”
Writing on Facebook after the service, Simmons added: “Sad but honoured to have been invited to the Chuck Berry Memorial event. The open casket was on view, but I couldn’t bear looking. It would break my heart.
“For those of you too young to know, Chuck Berry was one of the founding fathers of rock ‘n’ roll and the architect of rock guitar playing.
Without Chuck Berry, you wouldn’t have had the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and many more.
He added: “Roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news..’ buckle your knees, and bow your head. The Great Chuck Berry is passing by…”
Chuck Berry died of natural causes on 18 March, aged 90. His estate recently unveiled the single ‘Big Boys’ from his upcoming final album ‘CHUCK’ – due for release in June.
By Lucy Yates
The post KISS’ Gene Simmons pays tearful tribute to Chuck Berry at his funeral appeared first on NME.
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