Tuesday, March 21, 2017

R.I.P. Chuck Berry


Chuck Berry died this past Saturday at age 90. A musician whose influence can't be overstated, a founder of Rock and Roll, his loss will be keenly felt. The BBC obituary says,
Chuck Berry's trademark four-bar guitar introduction and quickfire lyrics reflected the rebelliousness of the youth of the 1950s. He was one of that exclusive group who took rhythm and blues from its black roots and "crossed over" to make it part of most teenagers' lifestyle. He influenced generations of succeeding rock stars, most notably the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys.
Nadine, released in 1964:

lyrics excerpt:
Nadine, honey is that you?
Oh, Nadine
Honey, is that you?
Seems like every time I see you
Darling you got something else to do

I saw her from the corner when she turned and doubled back
And started walkin' toward a coffee colored Cadillac
I was pushin' through the crowd to get to where she's at
And I was campaign shouting like a southern diplomat

Notice that coffee-colored Cadillac in the lyrics? That's my connection to the weekly T is for Tuesday gathering at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog. We share a drink (and I admit this post stretches the point); but please join me in a cuppa coffee (I take mine black, but I have white and brown sugar cubes and Swiss mocha for flavoring if you like) while we stroll down memory lane and appreciate some more of his music.

He wrote Memphis, Tennessee in 1959, though the Johnny Rivers 1964 cover is better known:

"If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry." - John Lennon

Rock and Roll Music (1957):

The New York Times obituary calls him "genre’s first true superstar" and says, "Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven” wasn’t the first rock ’n’ roll song, but it was the best and brashest of the genre’s early advertisements." Roll Over Beethoven (1956) is #97 on Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Billboard says,
Berry isn't, as some assume, the inventor of rock. True, he was its most important early architect, but by the time his debut single "Maybellene" was unleashed into the world in 1955, Bo Diddley, Fats Domino and Bill Haley & the Comets already had iconic hit singles on the Billboard charts. Elvis Presley's rocked-up version of the blues song "That's All Right" dropped in 1954, and "Rocket 88" -- an Ike Turner-helmed recording some historians hail as the first true rock n' roll release -- actually came out in 1951, years before the rock revolution started in earnest.

So why, if rock was already on the charts, is Chuck Berry most commonly cited as the single most important figure in rock music's creation? Simply put, unlike Domino, Presley, Haley or even the immensely influential Diddley, Chuck Berry helped codify what rock music would become.
Maybelline (1955):

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has a nice biography and says, "it's not an exaggeration to say that he's the most influential figure on modern rock & roll: Name any major band—the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith—and they'll have cited Berry as an inspiration," and is quoted by Wikipedia as saying
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".
A couple more of note are No Particular Place to Go from 1964:

and, of course, Johnny B. Goode from 1958, one of the musical selections chosen for inclusion on the record sent into space on Voyager:

Not ready to stop? Here's an hour of him, a Greatest Hits album:

R.I.P. Chuck Berry.


  1. a great Tribute, thanks! may he r.i.p.

  2. Great post! Happy T Day, hugs, Valerie

  3. what a great tribute to Chuck Berry. Such a rock and roll icon for sure. Happy T day!

  4. RIP Chuck Berry.. what a lovely tribute Divers! Happy happy T day! Hugs! deb

  5. What a fantastic post and tribute to an outstanding music legend! I loved listening to his music, thanks :-) . Chuck Berry was an amazing guitarist, singer and songwriter - may he rest in peace! Wishing you a Happy T Tuesday! J :-)

  6. Those days held the BEST music...........and I remember them all
    Thanks for the memories.
    Happy T-day

  7. A great tribute to a SUPER GREAT SINGER! He was also a super funny man... he lived in the town I work in and would shop at our store . He was always pleasant to wait on and entertained with jokes and stories and would sing you a song at the drop of a hat. He sang a Happy Birthday to me one year and followed it with "MY Ding_A_Ling" I'd watched him go down hill in the past 2 years and it saddened me as a knew an era of Rock-n-Roll would be leaving us soon.

  8. Its a sad loss but he did live a long life and get to contribute so much great music to us. This is the perfect tribute! May he rest in peace. Hugs-Erika

  9. he was an amazing artist

  10. Its a great tribute to a wonderful singer.
    Happy T day

  11. I loved Chuck Berry's music. In his later years, I got to see him in concert. Now he's motorvatin' over the hill. hope he can catch Maybelline in her Coupe d'Ville. Happy T. Day

  12. My friend Sally and I were out today for shopping at Sam's and lunch. She told me Chuck Berry died on Saturday and some radio station was playing all of his songs all day long. I didn't know about him, and was too young to appreciate his music. I'm a hard rocker, but apparently Sally grew up with his music and let me know how sad she was for his death.

    I adore the outside the box coffee tribute today. This is definitely what I'm always looking for, not the same old, mundane stuff. This tribute to Chuck Berry and your tying it in to T was the perfect tribute to both this Tuesday.

  13. Chucky Berry was a one of a kind artistic genius.
    His legacy will live on forever.
    Nice tribute.

  14. He could write, compose, sing, and entertain.
    Great tribute and dance down memory lane. :)

  15. Great memories and tribute. Chuck Berry had quite an impact on teen culture and the pop music scene. can't believe he was 90; that would make me ... never mind.

    Happy T-day, D! Eileen

  16. So here I am doing a belated comment. We've been away for a few days for my birthday and the campsite did not have wifi or electricity (my laptop battery is knackered and I can use it only on mains power). We had a lovely few days with good weather. Thank you for the birthday wishes.
    What a wonderful tribute to Chuck Berry! I grew up in the 50s and I remember most of his songs. He was so influencial.
    Did you know that Vera Lynn (or should i say Dame Vera Lynn) has celebrated her 100th birthday this week. Bless her!
    Have a great weekend,

    1. Thanks for the heads-up on Lynn. I'll have to remember her on her birthday next year.

  17. Fantastic tribute! Will be back again when I have time to listen to all these songs! Love them all...And coffee colored cadillac would be almost as good as a pink Cadillac! ;)