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Music: Chuck Berry
His mother told him someday you will be a man,
And you would be the leader of a big old band.
Many people coming from miles around
To hear you play your music when the sun go down
"Johhny B. Goode"

Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry (1926-) is a famous Rock & Roll singer and guitarist best known for his string of pioneering hit singles during The Fifties. Indisputably one of the most important and influential performers of all time, his best known songs include "Johnny B. Goode", "Roll Over Beethoven", "Maybellene" and many more.

Although his output slowed after a run-in with the law which saw him convicted for some time (in circumstances similar to those that wrecked the career of Jerry Lee Lewis) and his hit-making period was over by the mid 1960s (with the exception of his only number-one hit, 1972's "My Ding-A-Ling"), Berry's influence on subsequent performers was significant. He was widely covered and cited as a favorite by many British Invasion groups, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, the Pretty Things, Manfred Mann and The Kinks.

Like his contemporary, Little Richard, Berry is a definite Long Runner, having remained fairly active over the past sixty years.


"Let me hear some of that trope and roll music, any old time you choose it":

  • Audience Participation Song: One of most proliferated recordings of "My Ding-a-Ling" involves him getting the audience to sing the chorus back to him.
  • But Not Too Black: The record company originally tried to hide the fact that he wasn't white. Of course, the advent of television made that pretty hard. They did make him change Johnny B Goode to a "country boy" rather than a "colored boy", though.
  • Call-and-Response Song: "School Day" features a contrapuntal pattern between Berry's vocal and his guitar.
  • Car Song: "Maybellene"
  • Cool Old Guy: Born in 1926 and still doing gigs.
  • Cover Version: One of the most popular sources for covers, especially by the artists of the British Invasion during the sixties.
  • Dirty Old Man: As the infamous "video cameras in the women's bathroom" incident can attest to.
  • Double Entendre: "My Ding-a-Ling"
  • Epic Rocking: "Concerto In B. Goode".
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: "No Particular Place To Go" has the teenaged characters go to Make-Out Point to... "take a stroll." Uh-huh. Of course, nothing happens.
    Can you imagine the way I felt?
    I couldn't unfasten her safety belt!
  • Gratuitous French: "You Never Can Tell" includes "monsieur and madame have rung the chapel bell/C'est la vie said the old folks, goes to show you never can tell." Possibly justified, since the groom in the song is named Pierre.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper
  • Heavy Meta: "Rock and Roll Music", "School Day", "Roll Over Beethoven". It was really what most of his lyrics were about.
  • Jerkass: Many have theorized that his adherence to this trope is at least part of what kept him from becoming as big as someone like Elvis, who was the epitome of the Nice Guy.
  • One Man Song: Johnny B. Goode, Roll Over Beethoven.
  • One Woman Song: "Beautiful Delilah", among others.
  • Repurposed Pop Song: "You Never Can Tell" got a new life briefly due to it being featured in the big John Travolta-Uma Thurman dance sequence in Pulp Fiction.
  • Rock Star Song: "Johnny B. Goode" and others.
  • The Scrooge: He would rather go to jail (for the second time, even!) than pay a fine when he was sentenced for tax fraud in the seventies. When he goes on tour, he demands that the local organizers provide him with a backing band, because he doesn't want to pay traveling expenses for his own band.
  • Self Plagiarism: "No Particular Place to Go" is literally just "School Day" with different lyrics.
  • Something Blues: "Drifting Blues," "St. Louis Blues", "Worried Life Blues"
  • Trope Maker: Along with Elvis Presley sideman Scotty Moore, Berry is the trope maker for guitar-based rock and roll.
  • Twelve Bar Blues: Like all 50's rockers, it's a staple of his songs.
  • Unusual Euphemism: My Ding-A-Ling for his penis.
  • Wham Line: "Marie is only six years old, information please/Try to put me through to her in Memphis, Tennessee"

Porgy and BessNational Recording RegistryJohn F. Kennedy
Louis ArmstrongRock & RollBill Haley And His Comets
The Twilight ZoneThe FiftiesBill Haley And His Comets
Pat BenatarRockBig Star

alternative title(s): Chuck Berry
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