Today I break with my usual review to pay tribute to the man who made rock and roll what it is: Chuck Berry, who died this past Saturday at 90.
Chuck’s only one peer in rock history was Elvis Presley. Not the Beatles or the Stones, not Led Zeppelin or Metallica. Elvis was the first voice of rock, the man who brought the swagger. Chuck was the first guitar hero and the man who wrote the book of what rock music sounds like. The thing was, Elvis covered so many different styles of music that he only defined rock’s attitude. Chuck only played one type of music: rock and roll.
He wasn’t the first, whether that was Jackie Brenston or Ike Turner or Bill Haley or whoever. However, it was his songbook and his onstage showmanship as rock’s first guitar slinger that built the foundations of rock music. Johnny B. Goode. Roll Over Beethoven. Sweet Little Sixteen. Maybelline. School Days. Around and Around. Rock and Roll Music.
Think back to the first Back to the Future movie. Whose song does Marty McFly play? Whose stage antics? Whose ‘cousin’ is Marty playing with? Chuck Berry is the answer to all those questions!
In Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 500 albums of all time, who has the highest rated greatest hits compilation? Chuck’s The Great Twenty-Eight, which they ranked at #21. This has every one of his hits from 1955-1965. While none of the songs are from the 70s, and this compilation wasn’t released until 1982, this is as essential to a rock music fan’s collection as Sgt. Pepper or Back in Black or The Joshua Tree. These songs are the foundation that the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin built their sound on. Without Chuck Berry, rock music might not have survived. At the very least, it certainly would have evolved very differently. So do yourself a favor. Buy this CD or put it into your Spotify rotation and enjoy the true Father of Rock and Roll.