Manny P. here…
“`A true pioneer of rock and roll, Chuck Berry was a significant influence on the development of the music associated with the rock music lifestyle. While no individual can say they invented rock music, Chuck Berry (right) comes closest of any single figure, who put all essential pieces together. It was his particular genius to graft country and western guitar licks onto rhythm and blues in his very first single, Maybellene. He was also known for his famed duck-walk while performing.
“`A fan of blues, swing, and boogie woogie, Berry studied the mechanics of music and how it was transmitted. As a teenager, he’d take radios apart, and put them back together. Using a Nick Manoloff guitar chord book, he learned how to play hits of the era. Chuck was fascinated with chord progressions and rhythm, discovering that songs borrowed from the Gershwins’ I Got Rhythm.
“`Berry claimed he was motivated primarily by the 1940s swing artist Louis Jordan. His break came when he traveled to Chicago in May, 1955, and met Muddy Waters, who suggested that he contact Chess Records. His other hits included Rock and Roll Music, Johnny B. Goode, Roll Over Beethoven, School Day, Sweet Lil Sixteen, Run Rudolph Run, Carol, Nadine, Little Queenie, No Particular Place to Go, Back in the U.S.A., You Never Can Tell, and curiously, his only #1 recording, My Ding-a-Ling.
“`Influenced by the legendary Carl Perkins, Bill Monroe, and Jimmy Rodgers, Berry’s sound would be replicated by the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones. His story was chronicled in the documentary, Hail! Hail! Rock n Roll. It was directed by Taylor Hackford, in celebration of his 60th birthday.
“`Among the accolades Berry has received are the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984, and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2000. He was ranked 7th on Time Magazine’s 2009 list of the 10 best electric guitar players of all time. When NASA launched Voyager I in 1977, an album was stored on the craft explaining music on Earth. The one rock song added was Johnny B. Goode.
“`Well before the rise of Bob Dylan, Berry wedded social commentary to the beat and rush of popular music. He was the subject of countless essays. But, in the final analysis, the rocker was his own best biographer. Along with J.D. Salinger, James Dean, and others in the 1950s, he helped define the modern teenager.
“`On a personal note, I introduced him twenty-five years ago in an outdoor concert that was held in Southern California. He was a real gentleman, and really down-to-earth.
“`The influential Chuck Berry was 90.
Until next time> “never forget”