March 18th marked the passing of one of rock’s greatest legends, Chuck Berry. Berry, known for his role in the creation of rock ‘n’ roll with his incredible guitar skills, self-confidence and memorable songs about cars, girls and dance parties, helped define the rock ‘n’ roll attitude in its early years. He passed away at his home in Wentzville, Missouri at the age of 90.
While Elvis Presley was considered rock’s first star and heartthrob, it was Chuck who was the master guitarist and the genius songwriter who understood what the kids wanted before they knew themselves. With songs like “Johnny B. Goode” and “Roll Over Beethoven,” he gave his listeners more than they bargained for.
In “Sweet Little Sixteen,” “You Can’t Catch Me” and other songs, Mr. Berry invented rock music for the teenage need for good times and fulfilled desires. In “Promised Lands,” “Too Much Monkey Business” and “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man,” he mocked and celebrated the opportunities that come along and the class tensions that existed.
On his 90th birthday, Chuck made the announcement that he was planning to release his first studio album in almost forty years. The album, plainly named “Chuck”, scheduled for release this upcoming June, was to consist of primarily new material.
But Chuck’s reach extends far beyond our earth. “Johnny B. Goode” is on one of the golden records placed on the Voyager I and Voyager II spacecraft, launched in 1977 and await discovery beyond our solar system.
In the words of Marty McFly, “you guys weren’t ready for that. But your kids will love it.”