Chuck Berry was the first Afro American artist to reach a large, young, white audience. All due respect to Sammy jr. and Nat and all the other coloured crooners from the early and mid fifties, but their efforts were more for the establishment’s turntables. Sinatra liked them, so they had to be all right .
But Berry’s music and lyrics spoke to the young. I know that the chubby, sweating dinner jacketed Bill Healey is regarded as the one who started it all. And I know that Presley brought it to the big times. But I also know that Berry gave rock’n’roll its sound and its soul. And this is what got him the large following. But this was the fifties, and Berry’s popularity was hard to swallow for some.
The smoke from burning Berry records ran thick when the righteous, right wing Christians were cleaning house for the young along the bible belt. The man under the steeple had told them rock’n’roll was the devil’s music, and this guy was an Afro American to top it. If that didn’t put the young straight on the road to hell and damnation I don’t know what would. Way to go. Berry.
I know that Elvis is the man and that he may even still be alive. I read that someone saw him in a railway station in Choan Lapeng just a couple of weeks ago.
And as far as I know Jerry Lee is still out there killing grand pianos when his ticker can take it. Who knows. Carl Perkins may even be out there blueshoeing it somewhere still. But all that does not mean a thing. Chuck Berry is and will always be the greatest rock’n’roller of all times.
Even to day some fifty years after he wrote most of his best stuff you’re not much of a rocker if you haven’t got a couple of Berry’s numbers on your play list. The Beatles had it, the Stones still do and the Boss does.
Chuck Berry is still alive to day and his presence is felt both in his live performances and in his recorded music but he is also felt and heard in other peoples music. He is there in the Beach Boys classic "Little Deuce Coupe" as he is in a lot of other songs from the same group. He’s there in early Beatles and Stones material and you can easily feel his presence in Springsteen classics like "Born to run", "Racing in the streets" and "Thunder road".
Go Go Chuck
Keep on Rocking – Ted