Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Influential Chuck Berry

From Wikipedia

"Chuck Berry is an influential figure and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's website, "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." Cub Koda wrote, "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." John Lennon was more succinct: "If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'." Berry was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986."

The man that singlehandedly shaped rock and roll, according to what I read, was also a convict, having served 3 sentences for various crimes. His first as a young man when his car broke down on the side of the road and he carjacked a passing motorist with a gun that didn't work. He was convicted of Armed Robbery and sentenced to reform school. The second was due to his invitation to a 14 year old Apache waitress he met in Mexico to come work in his club as a hatcheck girl. After she was fired she went into prostitution and was arrested. He brought her here so he was arrested under the Mann Act. Transporting women across state lines for the purpose of sex is illegal. America was up in arms over Jerry Lee Lewis' marriage to his 13 year old cousin and Chuck was a black man plus an ex-con. It took 2 trials to convict him but they managed it. His third trip to the "big house" was for income tax evasion. There also was the little matter of a video camera installed in the ladies room of a restaurant he owned called The Southern Air in Wentzville, Missouri. It's estimated that he paid 1.2 million dollars to 59 women plus legal fees.

Whatever, or whoever Charles Edward Anderson Berry really is, you have to admit he made some fine music. "Maybelline", "Memphis, Tennesee", "No Particular Place To Go", "Roll Over Beethoven", "Johnny B. Goode", "School Days", "Sweet Little Sixteen" and his only number 1 hit "My Ding-a-ling". In 2003, Rolling Stone named him number six on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

His compilation album The Great Twenty-Eight was also named 21st on the magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

In 2004 six of his songs were included in Rolling Stone's "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list, 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).

Also in 2004, Berry was rated #5 in Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and in 2008 his song Johnny B. Goode won first place in the 100 greatest guitar songs according to Rolling Stone Magazine

The video is a medley of the Rock and Roll Anthems of Chuck Berry. I usually don't like medleys, but this one is different as it doesn't cut the song off in any way that detracts from ones enjoyment of it.


  1. What I gather from this fine piece is that Mr Berry had his ups, way ups, and his downs, way downs....Still, hands down, he was everything that the article said he was with respect to a rock and roll pioneer. All the statistics there in one place were quite interesting.


  2. Probably the only person in the world who received his just rewards for both his ups and his downs, LOL

    After prison and before music he went to cosmetology school. I can JUST imagine Chuck Berry the hairdresser.