When Chuck Berry brought rock ‘n’ roll to the old Omni Coliseum

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When Chuck Berry brought rock ‘n’ roll to the old Omni Coliseum

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Peter Klaunzer/Keystone via AP, File
FILE - In this Nov. 13, 2007 file photo, legendary U.S. musician Chuck Berry performs on stage at the Avo Session in Basel, Switzerland. Berry, rock 'n' roll's founding guitar hero and storyteller who defined the music's joy and rebellion in such classics as "Johnny B. Goode," ''Sweet Little Sixteen" and "Roll Over Beethoven," died Saturday, March 18, 2017, at his home west of St. Louis. He was 90.
  • Story Highlights
  • Chuck Berry, a rock legend known for songs such as Roll Over Beethoven, died Saturday at age 90
  • Berry played Atlanta concerts from 1961 to 2003
  • Chuck Berry headlined a 1973 Rock N Roll Revival concert at the Omni Coliseum
Exterior view of the rust-colored Omni Coliseum. (Acroterion / Wikimedia Commons)

When Chuck Berry took the stage in Atlanta in 1973, he was already a rock ‘n’ roll legend, and his venue was the old Omni Coliseum, then less than a year old and in demand as a concert hall and as the home court / rink for the Atlanta Hawks and the Atlanta Flames.

Berry was not front page news in Atlanta, where the concert was covered in a  summary of weekend concerts that included The Brady Gang -- child actors from "The Brady Bunch--" as well as concerts by Johnny Winter, Jeannie C. Riley and "several veteran musical stars in a 'Rock 'n' Roll Revival."

A grainy copy of the 1973 photo and headline from the Atlanta Constitution. Chuck Berry was one of the Rock Stars due at the Omni Coliseum. (AJC archives)

In the May 13, 1973 article, Atlanta Constitution entertainment writer Scott Cain wrote: 

“Also scheduled Saturday is the ‘Rock 'n' Roll Revival.’ It will take place at 8 p.m. in the Omni. Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Bo Diddley and the Shirelles are the headliners. 

“All of the principals are well known to rock fans, their careers dating to the earliest days of the rock 'n' roll era. Little Richard probably has the largest following locally because he formerly lived in Macon. He became a world figure with ‘Tutti Frutti’ and other feverish hits. 

“Although Little Richard and Bo Diddley have both been in demand in recent years, especially in the wake of a wave of nostalgia, Chuck Berry has probably been the most successful at continuing on a peak of popularity. His ‘Ding-a-Ling’ [My Ding-a-Ling, 1972] hit last year was one of the most popular and most widely discussed songs of 1972.”  

A decade earlier, Chuck Berry performed in concert at Georgia Tech in March 1961, the night after playing at the University of Georgia. From Atlanta, his next stop was UNC Chapel Hill.

In addition to the Omni concert, Berry performed at least two other major Atlanta gigs -- both outdoors -- at the Chastain Park Amphitheatre in 2003 and the Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater (“The Fred”) in 2001.

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