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All About Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry was probably the most influential artist from the early days of rock and roll, in terms of the impact that his music had on the evolution of the genre.
Edited By: Bruce

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BRIEF OVERVIEW:

Before Chuck Berry arrived on the scene the guitar was mainly a background instrument in rock and roll and rhythm and blues. In the early 50s the dominant instruments in the genre were the saxophone and the piano. Chuck's topical lyrics, combined with his legendary guitar riffs, set the model for the rock and roll style of the 60s. Virtually every guitar playing rock artist that came after him was influenced greatly by his style, as rock and roll became a guitar dominated genre by the mid-60s, and has stayed that way ever since.

Chuck exploded on to the scene in the summer of 1955 with his debut single, a song called "Maybellene" (originally called Ida Red) that shot right to the top of the R&B charts, staying at # 1 for ELEVEN weeks in the summer and fall of that year. It also broke into the top ten on the Billboard pop chart, which was incredible for a rock and roll song by a brand new artist in 1955, a time when most R&B and rock and roll songs were still not breaking into the mainstream pop market. "Maybellene" peaked at # 5 on the pop chart, and proved to be immune to the pop cover versions by white artists that plagued most black artists of the day, as a couple of lame cover versions failed to even make the charts.

He went on to release several of the greatest rock and roll classics of all time over the next 5 years or so, before doing a stretch in prison in the early 60s for a violation of the Mann Act. Upon his release from prison in late 1963 he made a strong comeback with several hit records in 1964. Chuck has actually spent time in jail on four different occasions, first in the late 40s, and in later years for tax evasion and drug possession. He's also been in trouble at times for other offenses, usually having to do with young women, like the time they discovered him videotaping his female employees in the bathroom at his amusement park.



Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry
CHUCK BERRY'S PRIMARY INFLUENCES:
Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker, Nat "King" Cole, Louis Jordan, Fats Domino, Dave Bartholomew, Tampa Red, Hank Williams, Bob Wills, Elmore James, Charlie Christian, Joe Turner, Charles Brown, Memphis Slim, Jay McShann, Guitar Slim, Willie Dixon
ROCK AND ROLL ARTISTS INFLUENCED BY CHUCK BERRY:
Elvis Presley, Rolling Stones, Beatles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Kinks, Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix, Dave Edmunds, Johnny Rivers, Beach Boys, Dave Clark Five, Grateful Dead, Electric Light Orchestra, George Thorogood, Lonnie Mack, Animals, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, Nick Lowe, Brownsville Station, etc..., etc..., etc....
QUOTES ABOUT CHUCK BERRY FROM OTHER ROCK AND ROLL ARTISTS:
John Lennon - "If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'."

Joe Perry (Aerosmith) - "Berry's On Top is probably my favorite record of all time; it defines rock and roll. A lot of people have done Chuck Berry songs, but to get that feel is really hard. It's the rock and roll thing--the push-pull and the rhythm of it."

Stevie Wonder - "There's only one true king of rock 'n' roll. His name is Chuck Berry."

Jerry Lee Lewis - "[My mama] said, 'You and Elvis are pretty good, but you're no Chuck Berry."

Keith Richards - "To me, Chuck Berry always was the epitome of rhythm and blues playing, rock and roll playing. It was beautiful, effortless, and his timing was perfection. He is rhythm supreme. He plays that lovely double-string stuff, which I got down a long time ago, but I'm still getting the hang of. Later I realized why he played that way--because of the sheer physical size of the guy. I mean, he makes one of those big Gibsons look like a ukulele!"
CHUCK BERRY AS A LIVE PERFORMER:

Here's a great story about Chuck Berry to illustrate just how electrifying he was as a live performer. In 1972, Chuck recorded a partially live album called "The London Chuck Berry Sessions." The live portion of the album was recorded at the Lanchester Arts Festival in Coventry, England, with the Average White Band backing up Chuck for the show. This is where he recorded the song that was ironically to become the only # 1 pop chart hit of his career, a novelty thing called "My Ding-A-Ling," which was done originally by Dave Bartholomew back in 1952.

As it got towards the end of his set, he went into a version of "Bye Bye Johnny," a song that was sort of a sequel to "Johnny B. Goode." After the first verse, the audience starting singing "Go, Johnny, Go, Go" as Chuck got to the chorus. Chuck picked up on it, and switched over to "Johnny B. Goode" without missing a beat. This became his encore as it went on for several minutes. When the song ended the audience was going absolutely crazy clamoring for more Chuck Berry. The announcer was trying to calm the crowd down saying, "He's overrun 15 minutes.... look, there's about two thousand people outside waiting for another concert, I'm sure lots more of you are going to come back in to see the Pink Floyd, we don't get a Pink Floyd concert if we don't we clear the place, it's as simple as that." Apparently the audience did not seem to care about the Pink Floyd, as they continued to clap and scream and refuse to clear out, seemingly not interested in this "Pink Floyd" that was due on next. Such is the power of Chuck Berry live on stage!

CHUCK BERRY IN OUTER SPACE:
In 1977 the United States sent a Voyager Space Probe deep into outer space, hoping for it to reach another galaxy, and perhaps even reach some other forms of life somewhere out there. The probe contained a bunch of items to illustrate what the culture on Earth was like. As part of the cultural package they picked one record to represent rock and roll, and that record was "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry. A while after that there was a skit on the TV show "Saturday Night Live." The premise of the skit was that Earth was about to get the first ever message from another life form in outer space. They had this big buildup to the message being received and decoded, translated, etc....finally they read the message out loud. The message from outer space was SEND MORE CHUCK BERRY!
SELECTED DISCOGRAPHY - SINGLES:
Maybellene / Wee Wee Hours - 1955
Chess 1604

Thirty Days / Together - 1955
Chess 1610

No Money Down / The Downbound Train - 1956
Chess 1615

Roll Over Beethoven / Drifting Heart - 1956
Chess 1626

Brown Eyed Handsome Man / Too Much Monkey Business - 1956
Chess 1635

You Can't Catch Me / Havana Moon - 1956
Chess 1645

School Day / Deep Feeling - 1957
Chess 1653

Oh Baby Doll / Lajaunda (Espanol) - 1957
Chess 1664

Rock & Roll Music / Blue Feeling - 1957
Chess 1671

Sweet Little Sixteen / Reelin And Rocking - 1958
Chess 1683

Johnny B. Goode / Around & Around - 1958
Chess 1691

Beautiful Delilah / Vacation Time - 1958
Chess 1697

Carol / Hey Pedro - 1958
Chess 1700

Sweet Little Rock And Roll / Joe Joe Gun - 1958
Chess 1709

Run Rudolph Run / Merry Christmas Baby - 1958
Chess 1714

Anthony Boy / That's My Desire - 1959
Chess 1716

Little Queenie / Almost Grown - 1959
Chess 1722

Back In The U.S.A. / Memphis, Tennessee - 1959
Chess 1729

Childhood Sweetheart / Broken Arrow - 1959
Chess 1737

Let It Rock / Too Pooped To Pop - 1960
Chess 1747

Bye Bye Johnny / Worried Life Blues - 1960
Chess 1754

I Got To Find My Baby / Mad Lad - 1960
Chess 1763

Jaguar And Thunderbird / Our Little Rendezvous - 1960
Chess 1767

I'm Talking About You / Little Star - 1961
Chess 1779

Come On / Go-Go-Go - 1961
Chess 1799

Nadine / O Rangutang - 1964
Chess 1883

No Particular Place To Go / You Two - 1964
Chess 1898

You Never Can Tell / Brenda Lee - 1964
Chess 1906

Little Marie / Go, Bobby Soxer - 1964
Chess 1912

Promised Land / Things I Used To Do - 1964
Chess 1916

Dear Dad / Lonely School Days - 1965
Chess 1926

It Wasn't Me / Welcome Back Pretty Baby - 1965
Chess 1943

Tulane / Have Mercy Judge - 1970
Chess 2090

My Ding-A-Ling / Johnny B. Goode (live) - 1972
Chess 2131

Reelin' & Rockin' (live) / Let's Boogie - 1972
Chess 2136
Chuck Berry

Maybellene 45 single disc
Roll Over Beethoven ad
School Day 45 single disc
Come On 45 single disc
Nadine sheet music cover
No Particular Place To Go 45 single disc
You Never Can Tell 45 single sleeve
SELECTED DISCOGRAPHY - ALBUMS/TRACKS:

After School Session with Chuck Berry - 1957 - Chess LP-1426

School Day/Deep Feeling/Too Much Monkey Business/
Wee Wee Hours/Roly Poly/No Money Down

Brown Eyed Handsome Man/Berry Pickin'/Together We Will Always Be/
Havana Moon/Down Bound Train/Drifting Heart

One Dozen Berrys - 1958 - Chess LP-1432)

Sweet Little Sixteen/Blue Feeling/La Jaunda (Espanola)/
Rocking At The Philharmonic/Oh Baby Doll/Guitar Boogie

Reelin' And Rockin'/Ingo/Rock And Roll Music/How You've Changed/
Low Feeling/It Don't Take But A Few Minutes

Chuck Berry Is on Top - 1959 - Chess LP-1435

Almost Grown/Carol/Maybellene/Sweet Little Rock And Roller/
Anthony Boy/Johnny B. Goode

Little Queenie/Jo Jo Gunne/Roll Over Beethoven/Around And Around/
Hey Pedro/Blues For Hawaiians

Rockin' at the Hops - 1960 - Chess LP-1448

Bye Bye Johnny/Worried Life Blues/Down the Road A Piece/
Confessin' The Blues/Too Pooped To Pop/Mad Lad

I Got To Find My Baby/Betty Jean/Childhood Sweetheart/
Broken Arrow/Driftin' Blues/Let It Rock

Chuck Berry New Juke Box Hits - 1961 - Chess LP-1456

I'm Talking About You/Diploma For Two/Thirteen Question Method/
Away From You/Don't You Lie To Me/The Way It Was Before

Little Star/Route 66/Sweet Sixteen/
Run Around/Stop And Listen/Rip It Up

St. Louis to Liverpool - 1964 - Chess LPS-1488

Little Marie /Our Little Rendezvous /No Particular Place To Go/
You Two/Promised Land/You Never Can Tell

Go Bobby Soxer/Things I Used To Do/Liverpool Drive/
Night Beat/Merry Christmas Baby/Brenda Lee

Chuck Berry in London - 1965 - Chess LPS-1495

My Little Love Light/She Once Was Mine/After It's Over/I Got a Booking/
Night Beat/His Daughter Caroline/You Came a Long Way From St. Louis

St. Louis Blues/Jamaica Farewell Song/Dear Dad/Butterscotch/
The Song of My Love/Why Should We End This Way/I Want To Be Your Driver

Fresh Berry's - 1965 - Chess LPS-1498

It Wasn't Me/Run Joe/Every Day We Rock And Roll/One For My Baby
(And One More For The Road)/Welcome Back Pretty Baby/

It's My Own Business/Right Off Rampart Street/Vaya Con Dios/
Merrily We Rock And Roll/My Mustang Ford/
Ain't That Just Like A Woman/Wee Hour Blues

Back Home - 1970 - Chess LPS-1550

Tulane/Have Mercy Judge/Instrumental/Christmas/Gun

I'm A Rocker/Flyin' Home/Fish And Chips/Some People

San Francisco Dues - 1971 - Chess CH-50008

Oh Louisiana/Let's Do Our Thing Together/Your Lick/Festival/Bound To Lose

Bordeaux In My Pirough/San Francisco Dues/Viva Rock And Roll/
My Dream (Poem)/Lonely School Days

The London Chuck Berry Sessions - 1972 - Chess CH-60020

Let's Boogie/Mean Old World/I Will Not Let You Go/London Berry Blues

I Love You/Reelin' and Rockin'/My Ding-A-Ling/Johnny B. Goode

Bio - 1973 - Chess CH-50043

Bio/Hello Little Girl Goodbye/Woodpecker/Rain Eyes

Aimlessly Driftin'/Got It And Gone/Talkin' About My Buddy

Chuck Berry 75 - 1975 - Chess CH-60032

Swanee River/I'm Just A Name/I Just Want To Make Love To You/
Too Late/South Of The Border/Hi Heel Sneakers

You Are My Sunshine/My Babe/Baby What You Want Me To Do/
A Deuce/Shake Rattle And Roll/Sue Answer/Don't You Lie To Me
CHUCK BERRY'S 50 GREATEST RECORDINGS:
1. Johnny B. Goode
2. Maybellene
3. School Day
4. Rock & Roll Music
5. Roll Over Beethoven
6. Sweet Little Sixteen
7. Reelin And Rocking
8. No Particular Place To Go
9. Brown Eyed Handsome Man
10. Around & Around
11. Carol
12. Back In The U.S.A.
13. You Never Can Tell
14. Little Queenie
15. Memphis, Tennessee
16. Run Rudolph Run
17. Nadine
18. Thirty Days
19. Too Much Monkey Business
20. You Can't Catch Me
21. Let It Rock
22. Bye Bye Johnny
23. Promised Land
24. Almost Grown
25. Wee Wee Hours
26. My Ding-A-Ling
27. Sweet Little Rock And Roll
28. No Money Down
29. It Wasn't Me
30. Come On
31. Oh Baby Doll
32. Go-Go-Go
33. I'm Talking About You
34. I Got To Find My Baby
35. Anthony Boy
36. Childhood Sweetheart
37. Jaguar And Thunderbird
38. Joe Joe Gun
39. It's My Own Business
40. Little Marie
41. Confessin' The Blues
42. Beautiful Delilah
43. The Downbound Train
44. Blue Feeling
45. Havana Moon
46. Dear Dad
47. Go, Bobby Soxer
48. Worried Life Blues
49. Merry Christmas Baby
50. Deep Feeling

PLACEMENT ON DIGITALDREAMDOOR LISTS (as of 2/05):
Greatest Rock Guitarists - # 25
Greatest Guitar Riff Creators - # 8
Greatest All Genre Guitarists - # 43
Most Influential Rock 'n' Roll Artists - # 3
Greatest Rock Songwriters - # 20
Greatest Frontmen Of Rock - # 56
Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Artists Of The 50s - # 3
Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Artists of the 60s - # 68
Greatest Rock Artists - # 10
Greatest 'Live' Rock Artists - # 31

Various songs by Chuck Berry are listed numerous times on many DDD song lists, including "Johnny B. Goode" as the # 1 song on the "Greatest Rock Songs" list, and also as the # 1 song on the "100 Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Songs Of The 50s" list, where Chuck has 7 songs in the top 100. He also has several songs on the "Greatest Guitar Riffs" list and the "Greatest Rock Anthems" list.




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