Music: Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry in the 1950's.

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 (born 18th October 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. It's generally considered that if it weren't for the racism at the time of his fame, Berry would have been crowned "King Of Rock And Roll" instead of Elvis Presley by a vast majority.

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 major influence by many British Invasion bands, such as The Animals, The Beatles, The Hollies, The Kinks, The Pretty Things, The Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds.

Like his contemporaries Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, Berry is a definite Long Runner, having remained fairly active over the past sixty years.

Rolling Stone recognises him as the seventh greatest guitarist of all time on their list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

Studio Discography:

  • 1956 - Rock, Rock, Rock
  • 1957 - After School Sessions
  • 1958 - One Dozen Berrys
  • 1959 - Chuck Berry Is On Top
  • 1960 - Rockin' At The Hops
  • 1961 - New Juke Box Hits
  • 1964 - Two Great Guitars note 
  • 1964 - St. Louis To Liverpool
  • 1965 - Chuck Berry In London
  • 1965 - Fresh Berry's
  • 1967 - Chuck Berry's Golden Hits
  • 1967 - Chuck Berry In Memphis
  • 1968 - From St. Louis To Frisco
  • 1969 - Concerto In B. Goode
  • 1970 - Back Home
  • 1971 - San Francisco Dues
  • 1972 - The London Chuck Berry Sessions note 
  • 1973 - Bio
  • 1975 - Chuck Berry
  • 1979 - Rock It
  • 1987 - Hail! Hail! Rock 'N' Roll

Live Discography:

  • 1963 - Chuck Berry On Stage
  • 1967 - Live At The Fillmore Auditorium
  • 1972 - The London Chuck Berry Sessions note 
  • 1978 - Chuck Berry Live In Concert
  • 1981 - Alive And Rockin'
  • 1981 - Chuck Berry Live
  • 1982 - Toronto Rock 'N' Roll Revival 1969 Vol. II
  • 1982 - Toronto Rock 'N' Roll Revival 1969 Vol. III
  • 2000 - Live!
  • 2000 - Live On Stage note 
  • 2002 - Chuck Berry - In Concert

"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.
  • Badass Grandpa: Naturally.
  • 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 "coloured 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 teenage 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 madam 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 Days", "Roll Over Beethoven". It was really what most of his lyrics were about.
  • Jerkass: Many have theorised 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.
  • Listing Cities: "Sweet Little Sixteen", "Back in the U.S.A."
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Let It Rock", which is not an ode to The Power of Rock but an uptempo Blues song about working on a railroad.
  • One Man Song: "Johnny B. Goode'', "Roll Over Beethoven".
  • One Woman Song: "Beautiful Delilah", "Nadine", 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 organisers provide him with a backing band, because he doesn't want to pay travelling 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"