Chuck Berry was a ‘Ballisodare Boy’

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BALLISODARE BOY: Chuck Berry on stage at the Boys of Ballisodare Festival in 1981.

By Majella McTiernan

Tributes have been pouring in from all over the world for US singer and composer, Chuck Berry, who passed away aged 90 last Saturday.

Regarded as one of the biggest influences of pre-Beatles rock and roll, he was most well-known for such songs as ‘Johnny B. Goode’, ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ and ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’.

What is perhaps less well-known is that the renowned musician visited Sligo in August 1981 to perform at a music festival in the village of Ballisodare.

The festival, run by brothers Philip and Kevin Flynn, began in 1977 and drew crowds from 4,000 rising to 20,000 into the Sligo village.

Philip Flynn this week recalled his memories of the famed guitarist and singer as someone who not only electrified the crowd but also one who was quite particular in his demands.

“We had to fly him in directly from Los Angeles where he lived and back out again and naturally of course first class tickets,” he told Ocean FM.

“It was interesting just dealing with him because he was very particular and everything had to be just so, as they say, I mean right down to the car that had to be supplied to him.

It was a Mercedes S280 SE at the time and it specifically had to be that car, and it had to be waiting for him at Dublin airport, and if you didn’t have that precise car there was a risk that he’d get back on the plane and go home again.

“So we had to make sure we found that particular car, mainly because, as the agent told us, that’s the car Chuck owned himself and the trunk, or what we call the boot, was the right size for his cases.”

His appearance in the Sligo festival, The Boys of Ballisodare, in 1981 saw him headline ahead of other such stars as Christy Moore, Richard Thompson and Ralph McTell.

The event was the first Irish all-weekend outdoor music festival and lasted for 6 seasons.

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