How Chuck Berry Pioneered Rock N’ Roll
Chuck Berry live at the BBc Theatre, 1972 - Jimmy Saa / Youtube
Rock N’ Roll wouldn’t be where it is today if it weren’t for Chuck Berry. Hailed as rock n’ roll’s godfather, Berry originally came from the rhythm n’ blues before innovating it to what the earliest form of rock n’ roll. His blues-based playing style became a notable feature of the musician, along with his electric stage presence and showmanship. Nobody would have expected the notorious young Missouri lad, who had been convicted for armed robbery and stealing a car in the early 40’s, to become one of the biggest names in rock n’ roll history.
After his release, Berry married his wife Themeta Suggs and took several day jobs to raise his family, who were expecting a daughter. Come the 1950’s, Berry was reunited with his first love, music, when he started to work with St. Louis’ local bands and musicians. While his groups’ forte were blues and ballads, Chuck Berry wanted to delve into country music as well, which was popular among the white community at that time. When he first played the genre to the black community, he got laughed at but eventually got the hearts of the audience when they frequently requested hillbilly performances.
Chuck Berry saw his big break with his first recorded single, “Maybellene“, his adaptation of the country tune “Ida Red“. The track was evident of the country influences, along with his signature blues sound. Almost all of his tracks are upbeat and feature his bright bluesy-rockabilly guitar licks that influenced his successors, The Rolling Stones. The Beatles, The Who, basically any band in the sixties that followed Good was enlightened in a way. His following hits “Sweet Little Sixteen“, “School Days“, “Rock and Roll Music“, and “Johnny B. Goode” cascaded as multiple successes in his career, implanting the trademark Chuck Berry sound into the hearts and minds of the crowds, who were witnessing the ushering of a new genre and era of music, which was rock n’ roll. The charisma-oozing, duck-walking singer-songwriting musician lived a ripe old age to witness his legacy evolve and take on different forms. Chuck Berry is truly a pioneer of classic rock who deserves all the credit he can get.