Chuck Berry Felt Ill Before Collapse On Stage

Rock and roll legend Chuck Berry ended a Chicago concert early last night after slumping over a keyboard and making multiple stage exits, in what his reps call a simple case of exhaustion.

The 84-year-old ''Johnny B. Goode" singer felt ill and was checked out by ambulance medics before taking the stage at the Congress Theater, a Chicago fire official told The Associated Press.

After his initial collapse, about an hour into the concert, Berry and the band attempted to continue the performance, but Berry again had to be taken off once paramedics arrived backstage.

Fire Department spokesman Joe Roccasalva said that Berry was quickly examined after being taken off stage -- he signed a release and was not taken to the hospital.

Reports from concertgoers who spoke to The Associated Press indicated that Berry gave an erratic, out-of-tune performance on Saturday night, and that he fell onto a keyboard face first before being helped offstage.

Once he returned, Berry was standing on his own and seemed very alert. He patted his chest and indicated that the medics put on a blood pressure cuff, concertgoer Steve Handwerker told The Associated Press.

Berry then told his fans that he wanted to give them what they want, doing what he called his "heel scoop" move, and was then again helped offstage.

Handwerker said he later saw Berry get into a white limousine and ride off from the theater.

The New York Daily News is reporting that Berry's rep, Dick Alen indicated in an e-mail that Berry's falter was a result of "last night exhaustion" and that Berry is "currently on plane on way home."

Berry had just completed two New Year's Eve performances at New York's B.B King Blues Club the previous night.