I heard the news today, oh, boy, that Chuck Berry died earlier today at the age of 90. What can I, or anybody, really, say about Chuck Berry? I mean honestly, what can you say?
Back in 2013, The Grandstander posted what I had hoped would be a fun little exercise of commissioning a new Mt. Rushmore for American Rock & Roll.
There were two stipulations in my little exercise. One, was that it applied to American artists only, and two, was that two of the faces on this Mt. Rushmore were Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry. Argue all you want about the third and fourth faces, but Presley and Berry were indisputable.
How about just these four songs: "Johnny B. Goode", "Maybellene", "Rock and Roll Music", "Roll Over Beethoven". Do they define "Rock & Roll", or what? And that is just scratching the surface. Two British teenagers, Mick Jagger and Kieth Richards, became friends and bonded over the music of Berry. So did John Lennon and Paul McCartney. When The Beatles and The Rolling Stones cite Chuck Berry as one of their major influences, what more need be said?Throw in The Beach Boys and that only adds to Berry's legacy.
Berry was no saint, to be sure. A Mann Act conviction and trouble with the IRS led to prison time over the years, and the rock & roll landscape is littered with stories from promoters and fellow artists about Berry's, shall we say, prickly nature. Still, his legacy is his music. Do yourself a favor over the next few days. Go to YouTube, type in "Chuck Berry" and watch some of Berry's 1950's and 1960's era performances, sit back and enjoy. Better yet, next time you have a long drive on the interstate ahead of you, put some Chuck Berry on your car's music system and turn it up full blast. That will make those miles just fly by. And whenever you enjoy any rock & roll music by one of your favorite artists, know that both they and you owe a debt of gratitude to Chuck Berry.
RIP Chuck Berry, and Hail, Hail Rock and Roll
Enjoy this classic: