Chuck Goering can't read sheet music.
At an early age, Goering was kicked out of his music class, where he was learning to play the drums. Then his piano teacher refused to teach him after a couple of lessons because she felt that he wasn't very good.
Somewhere along the way, Goering became "Barrelhouse" Chuck and a legendary blues piano player.
While living in Florida, Barrelhouse Chuck became enamored with the blues when heard his first Muddy Waters record featuring Otis Spann on piano. While still a teenager, he formed his own band and opened for Willie Dixon, B.B. King, and Muddy Waters. Eventually, he caught the attention of Bo Diddley and they began playing shows together.
"Bo Diddley would come around just to see me play and invite me to his house. He said to me 'Chuck, you got that Chess sound," reminisced Barrelhouse Chuck. "And as a kid, I got to open up for B.B. King. I was about 18 and it was a huge thing to open up for him!"
Chuck wanted to be in the heart of the blues so he took a gamble in 1979 and drove to Chicago to seek out the great blues piano player Sunnyland Slim. Over the next 16 years in Chicago, he developed his talents playing the piano by studying with Sunnyland Slim and other great blues piano players like Blind John Davis, Detroit Junior, Erwin Helfer and Little Brother Montgomery.
Just recently Barrelhouse played at New York City's Apollo Theater joining an all-star lineup of blues guitarists and musicians for the "Howlin' For Hubert" benefit concert.
Barrelhouse Chuck recalled the rehearsal before the show.
"Keith Richards walks in. He comes right by the piano and he says 'I know who you are. You're Barrelhouse Chuck. Man, you got love in your eyes.' And then he gives me a big hug."
During the show, Barrelhouse pounded the keys of his piano as Richards, of the Rolling Stones, stood side stage leaning on the piano and watching him play.
It has been a pretty good run for the blues legend who can't read music.
The blues memorabilia collection of local blues legend Barrelhouse Chuck Goering can be seen at "The Blues: From the Heart & Soul" exhibit on display at the Lake County Discovery Museum near Wauconda from February 18 to August 19.