For decades, he’s played with the biggest and the best blues musicians in the world.
He’s the piano man whose talents earned him the name Barrelhouse Chuck.
Now the Chicago musician is fighting for his life. He’s not giving up. And he’s happy to look back at a life he loved because music was at the center of it all. He says music gave him purpose and gave him life and fed his soul.
He was born Harvey Charles Goering and as his musical talents exploded in the early years, Goering became known as Barrelhouse Chuck. He was an ambitious teen sniffing out nightclubs to play piano in then rose through the blues ranks and jammed with the best of them over the years. His inspirations include Muddy Waters, B.B. King and Bo Didley. He played with them all as well as Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards.
Those are the big stars who he played with on stage and now the legends that fill six rooms in his basement. From floor to ceiling 32’s, 45’s, 8-tracks and posters line the walls along with signed autographs, back stage passes and so much more. It’s also where Barrelhouse Chuck spends his time these days. At 58, he’s rarely touching the keyboard anymore. Instead he’s fighting Stage 4 prostate cancer with everything he’s got.
Last month, he was honored at Buddy Guy’s Legends and inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. His old friend of 35 years, piano great Erwin Helfer says Chuck is one of the all-time best Chicago blues performers who is finally getting his due.
“I feel very lucky and honored I got to be here long enough to do that and still be alive to accept the award,” Barrelhouse Chuck says.
His health is on a steady decline and the hospital bills continue to pile up.
So his friends want to help. They built a GoFundMe page and in its first day raised over $10,000. They did it, they say, because Chuck, his whole life, has had a big heart.
The Grammy award nominee is leaving the rest of us with a lifetime of good music and good memories. His friends say Chuck’s legacy in the blues world will always be very much alive.
“How I’d like to be remembered is as a guy who was here and just loved to do what I do,” he says. “I hope I brought a smile to your face, because I sure had a good run. I sure did.”
Chuck was in the hospital recently again. Treatment options are dwindling, but he’s back home doing as well as can be expected.
Friends of Barrelhouse Chuck are hoping to raise $75,000 to cover medical bills that have accumulated over the years.