Chuck Berry Cadillac Donated to National Museum of African American History and Culture

December 2, 2011
News Release

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Chuck Berry's 1973 red Cadillac Eldorado convertible.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has acquired a 1973 red convertible Eldorado Cadillac belonging to legendary rock ’n’ roll musician Chuck Berry.

The car is part of Berry’s personal fleet of Cadillacs and was driven during the filming of Hail! Hail! Rock ’n’ Roll, a 1987 documentary directed by Taylor Hackford that chronicles two 1986 concerts celebrating Berry’s 60th birthday. In the film, Berry drove this Cadillac onto the stage of the Fox Theater in St. Louis—the same theater that turned him away as a child because of his race. Berry, known for his song lyrics that reference the iconic vehicle, would drive himself to and from each performance in his own Cadillac.

The acquisition will enter the museum’s musical history collection and help illustrate Berry’s impact on rock ’n’ roll and popular culture. The car will be on view in the “Musical Crossroads” exhibition when the museum opens in 2015. Other items in the collection include Michael Jackson’s fedora, a dress worn by Lena Horne in the film Stormy Weather and Louis Armstrong’s trumpet.

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