Yesterday marked Chuck Berry’s 89th birthday. It’s amazing to look back over the years with how much he’s contributed rock n’ roll and music today. He’s the original grandfather of rock and roll, and I’m sure I’m not alone when Johnny B. Goode was one of the first songs I set as a goal to learn how to play (and also one that was instrumental in teaching me the basics of the blues and I-IV-V chord progressions). Though rock music has morphed into many different iterations, even in today’s music you can hear some of Chuck’s influence on modern players. His tone was so raw and cut like a knife, and I think everyone who watched the movie “Back to the Future” with Michael J. Fox wanted to be Marty McFly and use an ES-335. He had a style and swagger all his own, and is still kicking tail today.
Eric Clapton describes it perfectly in this video when it comes to talking about his influence on blues and rock music and how lead lines sound so much fuller and meatier with double-stops and bends:
Chuck has always been a true showman, and his stage presence could get even the most boring and lifeless crown moving. There’s something about a swing groove that makes people want to get up and dance. He could move and shake with the best of them too! His dynamic with other musicians is infamous, but this is one that I personally love of Chuck playing some good ol’ rock music with Keith Richards and Robert Cray.
Last but not least, the one song that started my love of Chuck’s music. There are countless more songs that could take its place and still be as identifiable, but this one sticks out for me the most. Sometimes it’s good to go back and refresh those old songs to gain a new perspective on today’s music and our own playing. It’s not overly technically difficult, but it’s good to just have fun playing classics sometimes. 🙂