“Roll over, Beethoven, and tell Tchaikovsky the news.”
Keith Richards Inducts Chuck Berry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1986):
“Chuck was my man. He was the one who made me say ‘I want to play guitar, Jesus Christ!’…Suddenly I knew what I wanted to do.”
~Keith Richards (1992)
“..if you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’.”
“Well, now, Chuck Berry was a rock & roll songwriter. So I never tried to write rock &
roll songs, ‘cause I figured he had just done it.”
~Bob Dylan (to Kurt Loder October 1987)
|Birth name||Charles Edward Anderson Berry|
|Born||October 18, 1926 (age 87)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
|Genres||Rock and roll, blues,rhythm and blues|
|Labels||Chess, Mercury, Atco|
Charles Edward Anderson “Chuck” Berry (born October 18, 1926) is an American guitarist, singer and songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. With songs such as “Maybellene” (1955), “Roll Over Beethoven” (1956), “Rock and Roll Music” (1957) and “Johnny B. Goode” (1958), Chuck Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive, with lyrics focusing on teen life and consumerism and utilizing guitar solos and showmanship that would be a major influence on subsequent rock music.
|Of all the early breakthrough rock & roll artists, none is more important to the development of the music than Chuck Berry. He is its greatest songwriter, the main shaper of its instrumental voice, one of its greatest guitarists, and one of its greatest performers. Quite simply, without him there would be no Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, nor a myriad others. There would be no standard “Chuck Berry guitar intro,” the instrument’s clarion call to get the joint rockin’ in any setting. The clippety-clop rhythms of rockabilly would not have been mainstreamed into the now standard 4/4 rock & roll beat. There would be no obsessive wordplay by modern-day tunesmiths; in fact, the whole history (and artistic level) of rock & roll songwriting would have been much poorer without him.
Those who do not claim him as a seminal influence or profess a liking for his music and showmanship show their ignorance of rock’s development as well as his place as the music’s first great creator. Elvis may have fueled rock & roll’s imagery, but Chuck Berry was its heartbeat and original mindset.
Johnny B Goode:
While no individual can be said to have invented rock and roll, Chuck Berry comes the closest of any single figure to being the one who put all the essential pieces together. It was his particular genius to graft country & western guitar licks onto a rhythm & blues chassis in his very first single, “Maybellene.”
-Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
- Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984
- Berry was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986, with the comment that he “laid the groundwork for not only a rock and roll sound but a rock and roll stance.”
- The Kennedy Center Honors in 2000
- being named seventh on Time magazine’s 2009 list of the 10 best electric guitar players of all-time
- On May 14, 2002, Chuck Berry was honored as one of the first BMI Icons at the 50th annual BMI Pop Awards. He was presented the award along with BMI affiliates Bo Diddley and Little Richard.
- Berry is included in several Rolling Stone “Greatest of All Time” lists. In September 2003, the magazine named him number 6 in their list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.
- This was followed in November of the same year by his compilation album The Great Twenty-Eight being ranked 21st in the Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
- The following year, in March 2004, Berry was ranked fifth out of “The Immortals – The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.
- In December 2004, six of his songs were included in the “Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”, namely “Johnny B. Goode” (#7), “Maybellene” (#18), “Roll Over Beethoven” (#97), “Rock and Roll Music” (#128), “Sweet Little Sixteen” (#272) and “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” (#374).
- In June 2008, his song “Johnny B. Goode” ranked first place in the “100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time”.
- Berry’s recording of “Johnny B. Goode” was included on the Voyager Golden Record, attached to the Voyager spacecraft as representing rock and roll, one of four American songs included among many cultural achievements of humanity.
- Berry was honored alongside Leonard Cohen as the recipients of the first annual Pen Awards for songwriting excellence at the JFK Presidential Library, Boston, Mass. on February 26, 2012
- Today, at the age of 86, Berry continues to play live.
Album of the day – The Ultimate Chuck Berry (2007)