by Robert Wilkinson
As I've said in past tributes, anyone who's ever picked up a guitar and played any of the basic licks of rock and roll owe everything to Mister Chuck Berry. In fact, John Lennon once said, "If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'." Today we celebrate the birthday of this pioneer of Rock and Roll with a lot of videos!
As usual, some of last year's links got pulled from you tube, so I went hunting again. Some of these are classic performances from the 50s, but the Master of his craft has never slowed down at all, and is still "rocking in St. Louie, way down to New Orleans...."
As I wrote in 2008:
Born in St. Louis, Chuck Berry amalgamed the blues with country and western and turned the world upside down in 1955 with his first hit, "Maybelline." This was followed by some of the most famous songs in the history of rock and roll: "Roll Over Beethoven," "Johnny B. Goode," "Rock and Roll Music," "Oh Carol," "School Days," "Little Queenie," "Brown Eyed Handsome Man," "Nadine," and a slew of others covered by everyone who followed, including the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Bruce Springsteen, (links are to clips of these greats performing Chuck Berry songs), and many, many more. He created the poetry of rock and roll, as well as just about every classic lick that beginning guitarists learn to master, and starred in two of the early movies featuring rock and roll artists.
A very Happy Birthday to you, Mister Chuck Berry. You are the Master who helped birth rock and roll and gave us its classic tunes and gee-tar licks. May you live to be 100 years old, so that you truly know rock and roll will never die. Your legacy will live forever!! And now, a few of the classics!
With some of these that follow, hit pause for a minute to let them buffer for awhile or they'll stop. The black and white shows are from the 1950s through mid-60s.
One of the greatest! A SMOKIN' performance of "Johnny B Goode" from 1958 complete with classic moves and cut-in comments by Keith Richards, Johnny Rivers, and others.Another version of "Johnny B. Goode" on Hullabaloo, complete with go-go dancers doing high steps!
Here are two gems! The first is Chuck doing "Johnny B Goode" in 1995 with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, duck walk and all! The second is Chuck doing "Johnny B Goode" with John Lennon.
From the same show, Chuck and John Lennon doing "Memphis."
Some classic b/w performances from the 50s!
From 1955, a live Chuck Berry performance of his breakout hit, "Maybelline."
A b/w show, probably from the mid-60s. "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Johnny B. Goode"
From another of Alan Freed's "jukebox" movies "Rock, Rock, Rock," this was Chuck Berry's coming out: "You Can't Catch Me."
"Oh Baby Doll" from 1957. Dig the footwork!!
From the Alan Freed "jukebox" movie "Go Johnny Go," here's Chuck doing "Little Queenie"
A 1965 performance on Shindig of "Back in the USA" (Note: the backup band, the "Shindogs," had Leon Russell on piano, Glen Campbell and Delaney Bramlett, and/or James Burton on guitars, and Larry Knechtel on bass. Darlene Love was one of the house backup singers. Wow!)
Here's a great live 1 minute performance in 1964 of "Sweet Little Sixteen," complete with major screaming by the audience!
Another b/w performance of "Sweet Little Sixteen."
"Sweet Little Sixteen" - London 1972
"Let It Rock" from the German show Beat Club in the early 70s.
Another great performance of "Let It Rock" from 1972.
From 1972, from "Sound for Saturday," Chuck doing a live performance of "Promised Land." (No, not Jackson Browne's "The Promised Land.")
The original 1957 studio version of "Rock and Roll Music""Brown Eyed Handsome Man" performed by Chuck and Robert Cray with Keith Richards and an all star backing band! From the same concert, "School Days," and "Back in the USA" with Chuck and Linda Ronstadt."
Here's a piece from "Hail, Hail, Rock and Roll" with Keith Richards and an ornery Chuck Berry rehearsing "Carol" and an upclose look at two legends.From the same show, we have a one minute clip of Robert Cray, Keith Richards, and other rehearsing one of my favorite tunes, and an early hit for the Stones called "Come On. We close this part of that show with a fantastic performance of "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Almost Grown," and the great "Nadine."
Here's an interview with Bruce Springsteen about meeting and playing with Chuck Berry early in his career.
Here's an 8 minute documentary on Chuck Berry, "the poet laureate of teenage America"
You gave the world a great gift for all time, and millions of us will never be the same. Thanks for everything, Mister Chuck Berry. I have a feeling your name will be revered hundreds of years from now. "Roll Over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news...."
© Copyright 2012 Robert Wilkinson