You can needle-point all you want about where rock and roll music started, but there should be no question that Chuck Berry is one of the fathers of the genre. His blending of showmanship, traditional blues music and country music in the later 1950s was beyond ahead of it’s time…it was so revolutionary that to this day, many musicians will cite Berry’s work as inspiration.
In an era where segregation was still a social norm, Berry’s music didn’t just blur the lines, it erased them as all races danced over them as Berry hopped and duck-walked across the stage while making his Gibson howl out like a wolf. He played black clubs, he played white clubs, he played “salt and pepper” (racially integrated) clubs and he rocked every last one. Even recently, he was working on another album, and had been playing live shows with little stop. Even as recently as 2008, he had been touring.
Chuck Berry lived ninety years that saw him rise from a middle-class kid in Saint Louis, Missouri to the status of a legend in the music industry. He had highs and lows throughout those ninety years, including a couple of stints behind bars, but his legacy as the man behind the guitar with a back-beat thumping solidly behind him is in stone. You could pick many great songs out from his catalog to honor him…”Maybellene”, “Roll Over Beethoven”, “Rock and Roll Music”. But there is one song, above all others, in that wide collection of music. It’s a song that fits with cars, teenage living, excitement and all of the other aspects that rock and roll music became popular for. It’s partly autobiographical, has been covered by numerous bands, including The Beatles, and is the only rock and roll song that was included on the golden record that is aboard the Voyager 1 space probe. In honor of one of the greats, we give you Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”. Rest in peace, Chuck.