1. Larry says

    RIP, Chuck Berry, I’ve been a fan for 50 years.

    I remember on the original cast SNL news report, Dan Ackroyd read an item about aliens, having encountered the Voyager spacecraft and after listening to the record of voices and music of Earth. including Johnny B. Goode, had contacted NASA with one request: Send more Chuck Berry.

    A true giant of Rock ‘n Roll. Now, go play wich your own ding-a-ling!

  2. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Dan, he was a giant in my college years, almost 50 years ago. And he didn’t OD, like many of his colleagues. *raises tankard of gr*g to Chuck Berry for avoiding the obvious premature death, and being an artist for so long*.

  3. mnb0 says

    It’s darn good for non hard-living non giants of non rock’n’roll as well.
    The movie that clip is taken from made me change my mind about Keith Richards, not about Chuck Berry, who imo was the real king of rock’n’roll. He wrote his own songs; that famous white guy only performed them.

  4. magistramarla says

    I was just a kid 50 years ago, but I grew up listening to Chuck Berry and Motown music in a small town not far from where he died. This was the music that shaped my tastes and many of my attitudes.
    Probably why I still dislike country music, even after living in Texas for many years.

  5. ajbjasus says

    @3 – mnbo

    Not sure what your opinion is about Keef, but although his guitar soloing style was heavily influenced by Chuck, and the Stones covered a lot of Chuck’s material, he and Jagger have produced an enormous amount of original material. They did a lot to expose people to black music who might never have heard it otherwise, in a pretty respectful way.

    As an aside, genius though Chuck was, he took many of his techniques as style from T Bone Walker.

  6. nich says

    Of course we all know he would have been nothing if not for his cousin Marvin Berry.

    But in all seriousness, as Mano Singham noted in his article, Mr. Berry, like so many beloved artists, had a fairly dark past when it came to women, best highlighted by the hidden cameras he had installed in the women’s restrooms at a restaurant he owned, if not the Mann Act charges for tooling around the country with an underage girl. The legitimacy of the latter accusation was marred by a judge’s liberal application of the N-word during his trial, and, like so many laws with ostensibly noble purposes, the racist and puritanical quickly found the Mann Act had other, umm, “useful” applications, so I take those accusations with a big white grain of salt.

  7. madtom1999 says

    #5 and not to forget Sister Rosetta Tharpe who is now being recognised as the mother of rock and roll and can be heard in most of Berry’s guitar work. But she was a woman as well as black!

  8. blf says

    I never saw Mr Berry live, but admit to missing a superb opportunity to do so. He was a great supporter of space exploration, and was the invited performer (and, as I recall, guest of honour) at a Planetary Society party for some significant spacecraft event (I don’t now recall just what). As a member of Society, living not-impossibly-far away from Pasadena, I had a more-than-less automatic invite — which I totally failed to take up, for (in retrospect) stooopid reasons. Bummer. And his death, multiple duck walking bummers…

  9. says

    In 1986, Carl Sagan wrote a letter to Chuck Berry to inform Berry that his “Johnny B.Goode” was on NASA’s Voyager spacecraft, which was, at the time, two billion miles from earth and still going.

    You can read to letter on the Independent U.K. website.

    Sagan wished Berry “Happy 60th birthday.”

  10. mnb0 says

    @ajb: my opinion was that Richards was a nasty character. Since I’ve seen that movie I think otherwise.

  11. rorschach says

    12 comments on the death of Chuck Berry? Wow.
    He’s the guy who motivated and inspired Richards and Jagger, Lennon and McCartney, Clapton, and everyone else and their dog.
    True legend. Keef loved him.

  12. ajbjasus says

    @mnbo That’s good to hear, Keith was a bit edgy at times, but I’ve always thought he was a decent guy who just loved blues and rock and roll. He and Chuck had a very interesting relationship.

  13. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    I knew someone who played in a backing band for him. They were hired for one gig by the local promoter. Chuck rolled up alone in a vintage car just before show time, plugged into the amp provided and off they band went. No introduction, no set list, no sound check, nothing. He didn’t even call the tunes, just launched into them and left the band to figure out for themselves the tune and the key he was doing it in that particular night. After he got over the shock of it my friend kinda, sorta enjoyed the gig. The group played together lots and knew Chuck’s back catalogue pretty well so they always managed to fall in by the first chorus. He said the lack of direction made what is fairly straightforward music into enough of a challenge to leave him with a sense of accomplishment at the end of the night, and he wondered if Chuck was deliberately playing his bigger hits in different keys just to mess with them.

    At the end of the gig Chuck got paid in cash, threw his guitar in the back of the car and drove off. No goodbye, no thank you, just off into the night and on to the next group of unsuspecting backing players.

  14. says

    Yeah, Chuck toured with no backup band forever. I read a post the other night on a music forum who backed him with their band. He said they ended up playing most of the tunes in B or B flat, which are generally considered hard keys to play in on guitar.

  15. petesh says

    Keith was a bit edgy at times — one could perhaps nominate this for understatement of the year.

    Chuck was a tad on the irascible side himself, as Keith has testified, which seems like the mot juste. He was also notorious for his treatment of women, so I was a little surprised to learn that he was married for over 68 years to the same woman, who survives him (and who did leave and return in the course of his wanderings). He was a bad boy and a genius. Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis are now competing for the title of Last Man Standing.