In 1987, the Washington Post stated “If rock ‘n’ roll has a patron saint, it is — arguably — not Elvis or Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis but Chuck Berry.”
Chuck Berry was one of the many pioneers to the greatest music of all time-- Rock 'N' Roll. His songs, lyrics and melodies played a big part in shaping Rock 'N' Roll as we know it today. Without him many of the artists we know today wouldn't exist and Rock 'N' Roll would be completely different, if it'd even exist at all.
Berry died on Saturday at the age of 90 years old but his legacy will never be forgotten.
Released in 1958, this song has been covered by many notable artists, two of the most notable are The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. The Rolling Stone's cover was released on their first album in 1964 and a live version was released on their 1970's live album “Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!”
14. Rock and Roll Music
Hitting the R&B charts at number 6 and number 8 on the Hot 100 chart in 1957, it is one of Berry's most popular and enduring compositions. Many classic musicians have recorded this classic Rock 'N' Roll tune with two of the most notable being The Beatles and The Beach Boys. It is listed as 128 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs list and it is noted by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of 500 songs that shaped Rock 'N' Roll.
13. Too Much Monkey Business
Released in 1956, this classic single reached number 4 on Billboard's “Most Played in Juke Boxes” chart, number 11 on the “Most Played by Jockey's” chart and number 7 on the “Top Sellers in Stores” chart. It has been covered by The Beatles and Elvis Presley. Many of Berry's songs have been recorded by such prestigious artists, especially by bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones whom imitated a lot of their acts from Chuck Berry.
12. Let It Rock
Released in 1960, this song is reminiscent of another Chuck Berry goody and it reached number 64 on the Billboard Top 100 which was the same week it was released as a single in the UK where it peaked at number 6.
11. Brown Eyed Handsome Man
Released in 1957, this song's lyrics talked quietly about racial attitudes and fears. It is reported that Berry wrote it after seeing a Hispanic man being arrested and a woman yelling to let him go. Some lyrics that stand out are “Arrested on charges of unemployment, he was sitting in the witness stand/The judge's wife called up the district attorney/Said you free that brown eyed man/You want your job you better free that brown eyed man.”
10. Little Queenie
Released in 1959, this song only peaked at number 80 on the Billboard Top 100 but it has still been covered by many different artists and Allmusic still refers to it as “an incredible Rock and Roll anthem.” Some of the bands that have covered it are The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and REO Speedwagon.
9. Back in the U.S.A.
Released in 1959, this song was a top 40 hit on the Billboard Top 100 where it peaked at number 37 and number 16 on the R&B chart. The song covers the pleasures of everyday life in the USA and was famously parodied by the Beatles with “Back in the USSR.”
8. No Particular Place to Go
Released in 1964, this song has similar music to one of Berry's other hits “School Days” and it is the perfect example of using a song and music to tell a story. The song tells of a couple cruising in a car with nowhere to go. It is considered a comical 4 verse story.
Released in 1964, this song is extremely influential for numerous artists and it has been covered by many including: George Thorogood, Dire Straits and Motörhead. According to Allmusic is was extremely influential on the songwriting of Bob Dylan, “One need only listen to 'Nadine (Is It You?)', released in February 1964, and then to the 1965 Dylan album 'Bringing It All Back Home', with its surreal story-songs, to hear the similarities."
6. Sweet Little Sixteen
Released in 1958, this song peaked at number two on the Billboard Top 100 and it became number one on the R&B Best Sellers Chart. Rolling Stone ranked it as number 272 on it's “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list. The music from this Rock 'N' Roll classic was also used for the Beach Boys “Surfin' USA.” It is by far one Berry's best songs.
5. My Ding-A-Ling
Released in 1972, this popular cover flew to number 1 one on Billboard's Top 100 chart and it became Berry's only number one hit in the USA. The original was recorded by Dave Bartholomew for King records and it is considered a novelty song and a controversial one. Given the context of the song many radio stations refused to play it when it was first released.
4. Roll Over Beethoven
Released in 1956, this song is regarded as one of the best Chuck Berry songs. It is ranked at 97 on Rolling Song's “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list and it has been covered by various artists. “Roll Over Beethoven” promotes Rock 'N' Roll and almost suggests that it is replacing classical music.
3. School Days
Released in 1957, it peaked at number 5 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, it went on to hit number one on the R&B Best Sellers chart. This classic track was also Berry's first appearance on the UK Singles Chart where it peaked at number 24. “School Days” is one of Berry's most well known songs and it is often considered a Rock 'N' Roll anthem. It is noted that many of the musical arrangements from it were reused for the 1964 song “No Particular Place To Go.”
Released in 1955, “Maybellene was one of the first Rock 'N' Roll songs and it was based off an old 1938 Western Fiddle tune named “Ida Red.” It was Berry's first single and first hit and it is noted as one of the pioneers of Rock 'N' Roll music. Rolling Stone magazine stated “Rock & roll guitar starts here.” It was well received by both black and white audiences at the time and it has received numerous awards and honors.
1. Johnny B. Goode
Released in 1958, this classic peaked at number 2 on Billboard's Hot R&B Sides chart and number 8 on the Hot 100 chart. This song was well received by both black and white iences and it is one of Berry's most famous tunes as well as one of the most recognized songs in music history. “Johnny B. Goode" is ranked number 7 on Rolling Stone's “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” The song's beginning riff is one of the most famous and noted by Guitar World as the greatest guitar opening ever. “The song’s opening riff is a clarion call—perhaps the greatest intro in Rock 'N' Roll."
There will never be another artist quite like Chuck Berry. His music has a timeless air about it that was filled with passion and a talent that can only be found in very few superstars. It is truly sad that we've lost one of the most amazing artists but he has left us with a legacy of music that can only come from the heart and a lifetime of
Thank you Chuck Berry for Rock 'N' Roll, may you Rest In Peace.
“Of all the early breakthrough rock ‘n’ roll artists, none is more important to the development of the music than Chuck Berry. He is its greatest songwriter, the main shaper of its instrumental voice, one of its greatest guitarists, and one of its greatest performers. Quite simply, without him, there would be no Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, nor a myriad others.” — Cub Koda, “All Music Guide to Rock.”