Posts Tagged ‘Chuck Berry’

Since the news broke last night of his death, there have likely been a million blog posts written about Chuck Berry. Here’s one more:

The above single, which I purchased as a young teen during the late 1970s, was my first Chuck Berry purchase. A few years later, like many other music fans, I picked up The Great Twenty-Eight, a double-LP set that collected his classic songs. The last Chuck Berry purchase was likely in 1987, when I picked up the soundtrack to the Hail! Hail! Rock ’n’ Roll film, which spotlighted two all-star concerts celebrating his 60th birthday. In between, and before and since, I’ve enjoyed his music in its original form as well as via covers and borrowed (aka stolen) tunes –

Like every other fan of rock music, in other words.

To describe his importance to the genre is just about impossible. However, he was not – as too many of the obits I’ve seen are headlined, the “father of rock ’n’ roll.” That’s a simplistic, and just plain wrong, summary of rock history. His first single, “Maybellene,” was released in 1955, a year after Elvis Presley’s seminal “That’s Alright, Mama” – and, as Elvis told Jet magazine in 1957, “rock ‘n’ roll was here a long time before I came along.” (This Wikipedia entry does a solid job of showing just how long.) That said, he was instrumental to its success – as its first poet laureate and guitar great. As the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame puts it in their bio of him, “If Elvis Presley cracked open the door for rock & roll, Chuck Berry kicked it wide open—and did his signature duck walk over it for good measure.”

Here he is with, perhaps, his most famous pick-up band: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Concert in 1996.

And here he is on The Mike Douglas Show in 1972. Following the interview, he performs with John Lennon, who was co-hosting the weekday talk show’s that week.

Here’s Chuck with Keith Richards and an all-star band (via the 1987 Hail! Hail! Rock ’n’ Roll movie):

And now, for today’s top 5, Rock ‘n’ Roll Never Forgets:

1) Bob Seger – “Carol” (1971).

2) Emmylou Harris & the Hot Band – “C’est La Vie,” 1977.

3) George Thorogood & the Delaware Destroyers – “No Particular Place to Go,” 1979.

4) Paul McCartney – “Brown Eyed Handsome Man.” From Later With Jools Holland in 1999 (with his Run Devil Run band, including Dave Gilmour and Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice).

5) Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – “You Can Never Tell” (2013).

And, finally, one of the greatest non-Chuck Berry songs to both channel him and explain his influence (“all of Chuck’s children are out there playing his licks”):

Bob Seger – “Rock ‘n’ Roll Never Forgets”

I was driving in my car the other day, Pono Player in mix mode, when Jackie DeShannon’s “Music and Memories” came bubbling to the fore. Great song, and one that partially inspired the subtitle to my blog (“…on music, memories & other stuff”). Anyway, it inspired me to create a non-definitive list of songs about music, or that use music as a metaphor. Some are obvious picks; others, hopefully, not.

1) Chuck Berry – “Rock and Roll Music” (1957)

2) The Ronettes – “I Can Hear Music” (1965)

3) Jackie DeShannon – “Music and Memories” (1966)

4) The Supremes – “I Hear a Symphony” (1966)

5) Arthur Conley – “Sweet Soul Music” (1967)

… and five bonus picks:

6) The Carpenters – “Superstar” (1971)

7) Dobie Gray – “Drift Away” (1973)

8) Al Stewart – “Song on the Radio” (1978)

9) Juliana Hatfield – “This Lonely Love” (2008)

10) Rumer – “Aretha” (2010)

…and one last bonus track – because I like it.

11) Juliana Hatfield – “It’s Only Rock and Roll” (2011)