editor's note: Upon hearing the news of Chuck Berry's passing, Ricki C. & myself quickly agreed that nobody needed our two cents on the subject. Who were we to comment on the man who invented rock n roll? After taking some time to let it all sink in, and a road trip to see Dan Baird, we decided our best course was to compile a page of people we admired to pay tribute. Hail Hail Rock n Roll. Hail Hail Chuck Berry. - Colin G.
For a quick reminder on why Chuck Berry was so important check out Annie Zaleski's bio she wrote for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame here.
Read "Without Chuck Berry There Would Be No Rock n Roll" by Rob Harvilla
Listen to Remembering Chuck Berry on the outstanding Sound Opinions podcast.
Terry Anderson is one of my rock n roll heroes and one of just a handful of songwriters I mention in the same breath as Chuck Berry. I asked him for his Chuck memories and he was nice enough to shoot me this as he was finishing up work on his latest album, Jimmy's Arcade due out May 10th. - Colin G
Terry Anderson: So our hero has left the building. 90 years is a good run, though. I'll take it! Sign me up! I'm just so blessed to have seen him perform three different times.
The first time was at MUSIC CITY here in Raleigh NC when The Pedestrians, along with my buddy Dave Adams on keys, got the backup gig. He loved Dave but man! oh man! he hated Tony the bass player who was, shall we say..."new to the instrument"! Chuck finally yelled at him "if you can't play that thang put it down!" I seem to remember getting backstage at that show, but you know, that was long time ago...back in my drankin' days (hee hee!).
The second time I saw him play was years later. Me and my buddy Roger were at Topsail Beach with our girls (mine was my soon to be wife) when we were looking in the paper for somewhere to go eat and wouldn't you know it! there's an ad for a CHUCK BERRY gig about to start in just 2 hours. The only problem was it was 2 hours away! So Roger and I left the girls to fend for themselves on the food thing and we hightailed the shit outta there headed for Myrtle Beach! Driving 70mph the whole way, screaming at stoplights and generally being the kinda assholes you never want behind you we got to the Carolina Opry House JUST as Chuck was hitting the stage! We had just enough time to catch our breath before he came out and started into Roll Over Beethoven.
The piano player sure was exuberant! Song after song he would take off on a solo just when Chuck was about to! Chuck would cut an eye but the guy was good, I mean REAL good! Eventually Chuck would get his solo in and continue on. But you could tell after about 5 or so songs like this our hero was getting pretty pissed off. About mid-way through the show Chuck had it out with the guy on stage. It was during a song so we didn't know what the hell was going on. But things started to change after that little talk they had. Chuck was ok with the guy stepping on his solos. He'd let the dude take one then he'd take his. Things went smoothly from then on and it wasn't until the end of the show did we ever figger out what they had discussed up there. On the last song Chuck made up an entire new number, 3 verses, solo...everything!
And on the last line of the song Chuck sez, "I didn't know the piano player was stone cold blind! Goodnight everybody!"
He came back out and did ROCK AND ROLL MUSIC, then he was gone.
It was so great and hilarious!
Saw him one more time a few years ago in downtown Raleigh. There were storms due to a hurricane in the area and it was an outside gig. The promoter was having trouble talking Chuck into going on. Finally he upped the pay 10k and got him a plate of ribs. I don't know which one influenced him the most but he came out during a break in the storm action and did about 40 minutes of partial Chuck Berry songs. The backup band sucked, but hey! at least Chuck sucked too! It didn't make a bit of difference though, we were standing right in front of him performing for US! There he was...Chuck FUCKING Berry!
Anybody who has seen Willie Phoenix knows he is in anybody's class when it comes to playing guitar-driven rock n roll. I snagged this from his Facebook page. - Colin G.
Willie Phoenix :IT'S SUNDAY MORNING....AND THERE IS YET ANOTHER CLOUD OVER PEPPER LAND...SEEMS SO MANY STARS THAT HAVE BRIGHTENED OUR ROCK N' ROLL SKIES ...OUR ROCK N' ROLL EXISTENCE...HAVE MADE THEIR FINAL EXIT. ...NOW WITH THAT BEING SAID ...LET ME SAY...NO OTHER ROCK ARTIST HAS INFLUENCED SO MANY MEGA STAR ROCK N' ROLL ARTISTS LIKE CHUCK BERRY...MEGA STARS INCLUDE....BOB DYLAN...BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN...BEATLES...BEACH BOYS,,,WHICH OF COURSE CHUCK SUED BEATLES AND BEACH BOYS...MANY OF YOU THINK COME TOGETHER WAS AN ORIGINAL...LENNON SLOWED DOWN CHUCKS...YOU CAN'T CATCH ME...HE EVEN LIFTED CHUCKS LYRIC...HERE COMES OLD FLAT TOP.. . AND JOHN HAD TO THANK SIR PAUL FOR THE ROLLING SOUL BASS LINE IN THAT SONG ALONG WITH MR. LENNONS BIG CHORUS PUSH....OR THAT TUNE WOULD HAVE BEEN MR. BERRYS ALL THE WAY. BOB DYLANS HIGHWAY 61'S RAMBLINGS..VERY MUCH IS CHUCKS ....TOO MUCH MONKEY BUSINESS....THE ROLLING STONES...ALWAYS HONORED THEIR BLACK ROCK N' ROLL FATHERS....GOT THEIR NAME FROM A MUDDY WATERS SONG....BUT CUT THEIR TEETH ON MANY MANY CHUCK BERRY SONGS...AND THE STONES ALWAYS PAID BACK...BEFORE CHUCK BERRY....YES THEIR WERE OTHER GREAT GUITAR PLAYERS...IN ALL THE GENRES ...ESPECIALLY COOL ROCK A BILLY AND BLUES CATS...BUT MOST OF THOSE GUYS FOLLOWED THE BASS RIFFS TO FATTEN GUITAR RHYTHMS...NOT CHUCK...HE ADDED THAT CHUGA CHUGA THING...THAT ALL GUITAR PLAYERS SHOULD LEARN TO DO IF YOU WANTED TO PLAY TRUE ROCK N' ROLL GUITAR...AND NOT JUST ROCK GUITAR...AND FOR ALL MY METAL BUDS OUT THERE...YOU MIGHT SAY CHUCK NEVER INFLUENCED ME...WELL EVEN JIMI HENDRIX DID A 1000 MPH VERSION OF JOHNNY B. GOODE...LED ZEPPLIN ....RIFFIN' CHUCK UP ON...BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE I ROCKED N' ROLL...AS ROBERT PLANT WOULD SING.... ANYWAY HISTORIANS RUSHED TO GIVE ELVIS THE CROWN...FOR MANY REASONS...AND BOY GROWING UP I LOVED ME SOME ELVIS....ELVIS MADE THE GIRLS SCREAM...BUT CHUCK NOT ONLY MADE THE GIRLS SCREAM...BUT THE BOYS CHEERED HIM ON TOO...ROCK N' ROLL ...THE TRUE POWER OF THE ELECTRIC ROCK N' ROLL GUITAR WAS FIRST BROUGHT TO LIGHT BY CHUCK BERRY...AND THEN OF COURSE WAS THE GENIUS OF HIS PERFECT SONG WRITING...I THINK HIS SONG WRITING GAVE A PICTURE PERFECT STORY OF ROCKIN' TEEN SUBURBIA FOR ITS TIME. HAIL! HAIL! THE TRUE KING OF ROCK N' ROLL!
And not to be outdone, long time Willie Phoenix and League Bowlers drummer Jim Johnson had some thoughts too.
Jim Johnson: No one had a bigger influence on every band I've ever loved, than Chuck Berry. The man defined the word Rock & Roll. There would be no Beatles or Stones, without Chuck Berry. There would be no Willie Phoenix or League Bowlers without Chuck Berry. His influence will live on, in a world that will be just a little sadder,without his presence. Rest in peace Chuck.
You changed my life, and countless others, who loved the words you sang, and the notes you played.
No Chuck Berry tribute would be complete with out reading what Keith Richards had to say about his passing and influence.
And Hail Hail Rock and Roll Director Taylor Hackford. Read it here.
And in closing, check out the playlist from Jon Brian Peterson's always swingin' Shakin' it Radio program which airs/streams on WCBE every Saturday night at 8pm. www.wcbe.org
"ALL OF CHUCK'S CHILDREN" 3-25-17 CB Special now online for FREE DOWNLOAD. Playlist below and download by clicking:
SHAKIN’ IT: CHUCK BERRY SPECIAL 03-25-17/HOUR ONE
CHUCK BERRY- “Memphis” (Live, 1972)
JOHNNY RIVERS- “Memphis”
CHUCK BERRY- “Sweet Little 16”
BEACH BOYS- “Surfin’ USA” (Live, 1972)
LONNIE MACK- “Memphis” (Instrumental)
CHUCK BERRY- “Wee Wee Hours”
CHUCK BERRY- “Downward Train”
CHUCK BERRY- “Havana Moon”
PULP FICTION clip- “Vincent Vega”
CHUCK BERRY- “You Never Can Tell”
CHUCK BERRY – “Tulane”
PAUL McCARTNEY- “Brown Eyed Handsome Man”
JOHNNIE ALLAN- “Promised Land”
CHOCOLATE WATCHBAND- “Come On”
MC5 – “Back In the USA”
ROLLING STONES- “You Can’t Catch Me”
ROLLING STONES- “Carol”
ROLLING STONES- “Around & Round”
MITCH RYDER- “Let It Rock”
ERIC BURDEN & ANIMALS- “Little Queenie” (Live)
BACK TO THE FUTURE clip- “Johnny B. Goode (instrumental)
SHAKIN’ IT: CHUCK BERRY SPECIAL 03-25-17/HOUR TWO
JOHN LENNON & CHUCK BERRY- “Johnny B. Goode” (Live on Mike Douglas Show)
BEATLES- “Roll Over Beethoven” (George Harrison sings!)
BEATLES- “Rock & Roll Music” (John Lennon sings)
ROD STEWART- “Sweet Little Rock N’ Roller”
BOB SEGER- “Rock N’ Roll Never Forgets”
TERRY DAVIDSON & THE GEARS- “I Will Not Let You Go”
THE KINKS- “Too Much Monkey Business”
ROCKPILE- “Oh What A Thrill” (featuring Dave Edmonds)
THE TROGGS- “No Particular Place To Go”
SELDOM SCENE- “Nadine”
JUDGE DREAD- “My Ding-A-Ling”
PETER TOSH- “Johnny B. Goode”
CHUCK BERRY- “30 Days”
JANE PAULEY INTERVIEW- (with CB, 1973)
CHUCK BERRY- “School Days” (Live, 1972)
CHUCK BERRY- “Almost Grown”
CHUCK BERRY- “Run Rudolph Run”
CHUCK BERRY- “I’m A Rocker”
CHUCK BERRY- “Woodpecker” (Instrumental, under outro)
Colin Gawel : The rock n roll tree has grown many branches, but the one that came straight from the trunk, the direct path from the roots was planted by Chuck Berry. I've watched the scene below hundreds of times and it always fills me with joy. I could go on and on about the songwriting, the poetry, and his problems but..... just look at him.....or better yet, try to take your eyes off him. RIP Chuck.