Artist News Awards

Chuck Berry and Peter Sellars receive Polar Music Prize

By | Published on Thursday 28 August 2014

Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry has received the Polar Music Prize, the annual award handed to musicians whose achievements are deemed exceptional by the Swedish royal family. Berry himself was not able to attend the ceremony, but a speech was read out by Welsh guitarist Dave Edmunds on his behalf.

In the speech, Berry wrote: “Unfortunately I am unable to travel, but my heart is in Sweden. I want to thank the King and the Royal Family for awarding me the Polar Prize. I understand what a great honour it is to be a recipient. I am sorry that I amunable to travel and receive this personally”.

In a video message, Keith Richards said of the influence Berry had on him: “Chuck Berry, he just leapt out of the radio at me. I ate him basically, I mean I breathed him, it wasn’t just food, he was the air I breathed for many years when I was learning guitar and trying to figure out how you could be such an all rounder. Such a great voice, such a great player, and also such a great showman, you know, it was all in one package, so basically if I listened to Chuck Berry I was full for the day. Chuck, congratulations Chuck! And also congratulations to Sweden for recognising Chuck Berry for what he is”.

Also receiving the £100,000 prize was American opera and theatre director Peter Sellars, who described receiving the prize as “overwhelming and completely shocking” in his acceptance speech.

Sellars and Berry join artists including Paul McCartney, Elton John, The Kronos Quartet, Bob Dylan, Yossou N’Dour, Patti Smith, Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, Ray Charles, Led Zeppelin and Ennio Morricone as Polaris Music Prize Laureates.

Here’s a medley of Chuck Berry songs as performed by a number of Swedish musicians with the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra: