Saluting Rock And Roll Pioneer Chuck Berry [1926 - 2017]

Posted by Billyjam, March 18, 2017 11:16pm | Post a Comment

One of rock n roll music's pioneers/creators Chuck Berry died this afternoon at his Missouri home. The influential guitarist/writer/singer born Charles Edward Anderson Berry, who had been performing up until a couple of years ago, was 90 years of age. Earlier today his family posted via the Chuck Berry Facebook page that: "We are deeply saddened to announce that Chuck Berry - beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather - passed away at his home today at the age of 90. Though his health had deteriorated recently, he spent his last days at home surrounded by the love of his family and friends. The Berry family asks that you respect their privacy during this difficult time."  

Chuck Berry's death comes in advance of his recently announced first studio album in 38 years (Chuck to be released later this year) and just three weeks following the release of the wonderful tribute to the artist's legacy: Rock And Roll Music! The Songs Of Chuck Berry.  That recommended 24 track collection that was carefully compiled by Ace UK Records, features his most famous songs being covered over the years by such artists as Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, MC5, Marty Robbins and The Beach Boys. Including such classics as "Roll Over Beethoven," "Johnny B. Goode," "Maybellene," "Sweet Little Sixteen" and "Little Queenie" (to name but a few) it is not only a a virtual history lesson in rock n roll music but a testament to the vital role that Chuck Berry played in the powerful popular new musical movement of the second half of the 20th century. Most of Berry's biggest rock and roll hits can be found on such artist collections as Chuck Berry: The Complete Chess Singles A's & B's 1955-1961 and the vinyl/LP collection Chuck Berry: Rock n Roll Masterworks.

Citing Louis Jordan as his primary influence, exuding a natural showmanship including spellbinding electric guitar solos, and building upon the basis of rhythm and blues as well as drawing from the structures of country music, Berry was among the key 1950's artists instrumental in creating rock and roll music. His 1957 hit "Rock And Roll Music" was the anthem of this revolutionary new genre of music that appealed to both black and white audiences. That record followed such other rock and roll hits by Berry as "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Maybellene" from 1956 and 1955 respectively. Recorded for Chess Records the early rock and roll hit "Maybellene" was actually Berry's re-interpretation of country artist Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys' 1938 recording of "Ida Red." "Ida Red" was a traditional song reinterpreted by Berry but consequent hits by the artist, such as 1958's "Johnny B. Goode," "Rock and Roll Music" and "Sweet Little Sixteen," were all written by the Berry himself.

In turn they would all be covered countless times by other artists. "Rock and Roll Music" for example was covered by such artists/fans of Berry's as  Bill Haley & His Comets, The Beach Boys, and The Beatles. The title of the collection St Louis To Liverpool  is a nod to influence on the Fab Four that Berry had. A huge fan of Berry's, John Lennon famously once stated that "If you had to give Rock 'n' Roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry." The Rolling Stones and The Kinks were among the other key British bands in the 1960's that were directly influenced by Chuck Berry.

Today upon the breaking news of the artist's death, many musicians took to social media to voice their sadness and respect for the influential artist. These included Bruce Springsteen who Tweeted that "Chuck Berry was rock and roll's greatest practitioner, guitarist and the greatest pure rock and roll writer who ever lived." Other Tweets today included one from NASA, noting how Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" was among the "music headed to the stars" on NASA Voyager's Golden Record.

A 1958 live performance video of Berry performing "Johnny B. Goode" as well as him performing "Maybellene" that same year follows below in addition to the more recent (2012 at age 85) live concert performance of "Reelin' and Rockin.'" Rest in peace Chuck Berry.

Chuck Berry "Johnny B. Goode (live in 1958)"
Chuck Berry "Reelin' and Rockin' (live in 2012)"
Chuck Berry "Maybellene (live in 1958)

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Rock And Roll (1), Chuck Berry (7), The Kinks (14), Rolling Stones (33), Bruce Springsteen (24), Chuck Berry R.i.p. (1), Beach Boys (18), Nasa (5), John Lennon (38), Beatles (103), Bill Haley (1)