Chuck Berry: Father of Rock 'n' Roll

On today's show, we took a trip back in time to revisit the "Father of Rock 'n' Roll," Chuck Berry. His bluesy guitar licks, swaggering vocals, and lively showmanship indisputably made Berry an indispensable element in the evolution of rock.

Here's some history about his rise to popularity in the 1950's:

He quickly found out that black audiences liked a wide variety of music and set himself to the task of being able to reproduce as much of it as possible. What he found they really liked — besides the blues and Nat King Cole tunes — was the sight and sound of a black man playing white hillbilly music, and Berry's showmanlike flair, coupled with his seemingly inexhaustible supply of fresh verses to old favorites, quickly made him a name on the circuit.

His influence on rock is undeniable, even Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry tells Rolling Stone that "Chuck Berry is like the Ernest Hemingway of Rock 'N Roll."

Today at the age of 81, he still tours the world and performs his hits "Johnny B. Goode," "Maybellene," and "Memphis, Tennessee" and a new box set Chuck Berry - Johnny B. Goode: His Complete '50s Chess Recordings will drop into record stores and iTunes soon.

What role do you think Chuck Berry held in American music history? What musicians do you think belong on the list of icons of rock? What musicians are missing from the canon of the "classics?"

See his 1965 performance on French television. His personality certainly comes out as he describes "the blues."

Or you may remember his song, "You Never Can Tell" from the classic dance-off scene in Pulp Fiction (1994).

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Being around during the 50's, I was entering my preteens & teen years, lived in Chicago,in the "HOOD." My recollection was, Rock & Roll was a Black art form. The kids in my neighbohhod that were well into their teens at the time, were really into Chuck Berry & we can not forget the other reigning King at the time little Richard, they both helped bring "Rock & Roll" to the masses !

Plus, both were seminal in laying down the foundations for "Rock & Roll".

In thinking about it, there were some early recording( not by neither) that had the words "Rock & Roll" in a sexual connotation that were to racy for the white stations to play; least we forget that how "Rock & Roll" Got it name.

To early recordings that I now remember were "Roll With Me Anny", & the next was "Anny Had A Baby."

Thanks for the piece, it brought back found memories.

Sent by Robert H. | 7:27 PM | 3-28-2008

Thank you SO much for this piece. I just listened to it today on podcast and it was my feel good moment of the week. I haven't listened to any Chuck Berry in ages. His music was the "Oldies" my father, aunts and uncles listened to - just background music to my childhood. Listening to it today as an adult, I had a brand new appreciation for the amazing talent of Mr. Berry. I can't wait to download some of his music to play for my kids.

Sent by Fat Lady | 1:50 AM | 4-3-2008

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