| SAO PAULO
SAO PAULO Republican candidate John McCain may
have used his song in the U.S. presidential campaign, but
veteran rock 'n' roller Chuck Berry has no doubt whom he wants
to see in the White House next year.
"America has finally come to this point where you can pick
a man of color and that not be a drawback," the legendary
81-year-old guitarist said of Barack Obama, who clinched the
Democratic presidential nomination last week and would become
the country's first black president if he wins in November.
"It's no question, myself being a man of color ... I mean,
you have to feel good about it," Berry, himself a black pioneer
in the 1950s music scene, told Reuters by phone from New York
ahead of a Brazil tour that starts next week.
"Definitely a proud and successful moment for all the
people of this country, not just black people, but Americans in
McCain, now preparing to take on Obama in the November
presidential election, used Berry's hit "Johnny B. Goode" as an
early campaign theme, although he has since switched to Abba's
"Take a Chance On Me."
"Johnny B. Goode" turned 50 in January and topped the list
of the 100 greatest guitar songs of all time that Rolling Stone
magazine published this month.
"In the '50s there were certain places we couldn't ride on
the bus," Berry said. "And now there is a possibility of a
black man being in White House. Free at last, free at last,
thank God Almighty, free at last," he said, quoting the words
of a Negro spiritual song famously invoked by assassinated
civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King Jr.
The first Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, known as the
"father of rock 'n' roll," Berry has been on tour since the
start of the year in the United States and Europe.
Berry has not released an album of new material since
1979's "Rock It." But he has been promising one since 2001 and
it may be close to becoming a reality.
"There are definitely plans for a new record. And we may
have more on that by the time we get there in Brazil ... But we
can't release any names yet," he said.
Until then, Berry doesn't mind playing the same old songs.
Neither do his fans, who will pay more than $100 a ticket in
Brazil to hear his hits "Memphis," "Maybellene," "Roll Over
Beethoven" and "Sweet Little Sixteen."
"(Those songs) never get old and you can't never forget
where you came from," he said. "The old have become classic,
because classic never dies."
(Editing by Stuart Grudgings and Cynthia Osterman)