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Chuck Berry falls ill at Chicago concert; exhaustion cited

January 2, 2011 | 12:35 pm

Chuck Berry Chuck Berry collapsed over an accompanist's keyboard while being taken offstage during the packed "Chuck Berry's Winter Dance Party" concert Saturday night in Chicago. The 84-year-old rocker was unable to finish the show.

The "Johnny B. Goode" singer, who picked up his guitar again about 15 minutes after falling ill in an attempt to continue the night, was taken offstage again to be examined by paramedics, then returned to thank fans who'd waited around, doing a bit of his signature "duck walk" as he left for good.

He declined to be taken to a hospital after the show, with his rep saying "last-night exhaustion" was to blame. Berry had performed two New Year's Eve shows at B.B. King Blues Club in New York the night before.

After starting with his hit "Roll Over Beethoven" and pulling off a couple other songs, things began to deteriorate, the Chicago Tribune said.

"Fifteen minutes into the set it went from fine to something wasn't right," concert promoter Michael Petryshyn said. "He was starting songs mid-song, playing 15 seconds of a song." Petryshyn said Berry "felt faint, he felt weak, and I was told to call 911."

Before collapsing, Berry acknowledged things weren't going well, the Trib said, telling the crowd he'd try to do better at entertaining them. One song later, he was done.

"He may be working harder than he should," pianist Vijay Tellis-Nayak told the Trib.

Staffers at Chicago's Hard Rock Hotel, where Berry was staying, said he looked good when they saw him Sunday morning. The Associated Press reported he'd been feeling ill before the show started on Saturday.

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-- Christie D'Zurilla

Reuters contributed to this report.

Photo: After being examined by paramedics, guitarist, singer and songwriter Chuck Berry returns to the stage in Chicago on Jan. 1, 2011, to thank the crowd and perform his famous "heel scoop" -- or "duck walk." He collapsed over a keyboard while being escorted offstage earlier in the evening, but was not hospitalized Credit: Steve Handwerker / Associated Press


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