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Months After His Death, Chuck Berry Gets His First Music Video

When director's Matt Bizer and Curtis Wayne Millard set out to shoot the first-ever music video for Chuck Berry, they had just one goal: have fun. So they turned to choreographer Jeremy Green, who orchestrated a thrilling dance sequence that unfolds at a high school sock hop. The elaborate routine recalls the era's rock-and-roll swing steps and includes a brief Washington Hand Dance performance. But Green makes slight updates with elements of hip-hop that give the choreography more momentum and a slight edge.

"Chuck Berry tunes are a good time and they tell stories that everyone can relate with, so we wanted to stay true to that," Bizer and Millard wrote in an email to NPR Music. "When we where shooting the video, Chuck Berry was still with us and during post-production we found out he had passed on. We did not know how to really process it all. In a way, I think we are still processing the entire experience."

In addition to Berry's passing, Millard and Bizer note they also lost another key figure who helped make the video happen: guitarist Colonel Bruce Hampton, who died while performing live on his 70th birthday. "The entire production working on Chuck Berry's 'Big Boys' music video has been a surreal mix of bliss, disbelief and some sadness."

The video features performers from Atlanta's Dance 411 studio. It was shot in Jasper, Ga. CHUCK, the first album of new Chuck Berry material in nearly 40 years, is due out June 9 on Dualtone Records.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Robin Hilton is a producer and co-host of the popular NPR Music show All Songs Considered.