Who started rock n' roll? How did rock start?
Well, it goes back to Fats Domino, Muddy Waters, Bill Haley perhaps. But who are the archetypes?
Elvis. Of course. Little Richard. Awopbomoloola! Jerry Lee Lewis. Great Balls of Fire...But if you're a guitarist, it was Chuck Berry who died yesterday.
Like many, I came to Chuck Berry second hand. As is well known, The Beatles and the Stones sprinkled Berry songs all over their early albums. The Stones continued to blast out a couple of Berry songs live late into their career. So, I'd be listening to Get Yer Ya Yas Out for example, and you'd hear amongst the well known Stones songs - Little Queenie, Carol.
It's safe to say, that not a day goes by without me hearing a Chuck Berry song (as I tend to have the Stones live on my iPhone and so, Let It Rock etc are always there). Interestingly enough, the latest song I downloaded last week was a Chuck Berry song by the Stones - Bye Bye Johnny.
His career is well known. His brushes with the law. His partnership with Johnny Johnson. His combination of upbeat R&B, electric guitar riffs, clever lyrics about school, cars, girls. His trouble with the law. His miserliness. His take the money and run attitude to live performances... Yeah, he wasn't a perfect individual. But I guess he didn't have to be. He was an original.
And me. My group used to play Johnny B Goode. And that is all I will say it. We killed Chuck long before yesterday. He deserved better!
It's funny but the scene in Back to the Future where Marty plays Johnny B Goode to the 1950's kids provides one of the best obituaries. Rock n roll was an alien force that quickly took over the world. Chuck Berry led the way with his twin string lead attack.
BTW I don't apologise for showing the Stones below playing Chuck Berry in 1969. My experience of Berry was second hand. He created the platform which elevated others - masterfully demonstrated by Keef and the boys here.
Oh, and if you go back to April 26th 2016 on this blog, Chuck Berry is one of those I said I would write about if they died. One of the greats.RIP Chuck. You had a good innings.