Seminal rocker Chuck Berry will be the subject of a documentary and dramatized biopic that is being made in cooperation with his estate.
Berry, who died March 18, is one of the most influential guitarists of early rock ‘n’ roll, bringing to life such classics as “Johnny B. Goode,” “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Maybellene,” among many others. His duck-walking stage struts and unforgettable guitar solos echoed down through the decades on records that followed.
UK-based indie Cardinal Releasing Ltd. signed the deal with the estate and widow Thelmetta Berry. The plan is to produce a feature docu, tentatively titled Chuck! The Documentary, and then follow with the biopic. Principal photography has started on the documentary.
Berry has been the subject of previous films, including Taylor Hackford’s Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll, a 1987 documentary that brought together Rolling Stone Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Linda Ronstadt, Julian Lennon, Etta James, Robert Cray and Berry’s longtime piano sidekick Johnny Johnson for two concerts in St. Louis to commemorate his 60th birthday.
Jon Brewer will produce and direct the documentary. Cardinal has a long history of music biopics, including studies of B.B. King, Nat King Cole, Jimi Hendrix and Mick Ronson
“I am very privileged to be able to produce and direct this fully authorized and official story of the legendary Chuck Berry,” said a statement from Brewer.
The dramatized biopic will start pre-production this summer after the documentary is wrapped. His final album, Chuck, was released last year and featured contributions from the Berry family.
Despite his enormous contributions to music, Berry had a complicated personal life, including jail time for tax evasion and violations of the Mann Act for bringing a 14-year-old girl across state lines for alleged “immoral purposes.”