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Chuck Berry (1926-2017) - Pioneering Rock-n-Roll Guitarist, Singer, and Songwriter Making the Transition from R&B


DonRocks
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It is so much more fitting calling Chuck Berry the pivot from R&B to Rock-n-Roll than it is "Rock Around the Clock" - Berry lived his music, and wasn't just slapped together to take advantage of some new fad. There's nothing wrong with Bill Haley & His Comets per se, but ever since I began to think for myself, I've had an uneasy, "Columbus discovered America"-type of feeling about this song, reinforced after seeing "Blackboard Jungle."

From chuckberry.com: "We are deeply saddened to announce that Chuck Berry - beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather passed away at his home today at the age of 90. Though his health had deteriorated recently, he spent his last days at home surrounded by the love of his family and friends. The Berry family asks that you respect their privacy during this difficult time."

Screenshot 2017-03-19 at 8.16.48 AM.png

"15 Essential Chuck Berry Songs" by Alan Light on mobile.nytimes.com

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On 3/19/2017 at 9:01 PM, The Hersch said:

Chuck Berry was the founder of rock-n-roll. He wasn't among its greatest practitioners, frankly, but he created it, and wrote a bunch of its most classic songs. Hail hail, rock-n-roll!

Hmm, I'm not sure you can say any one individual "founded" rock-n-roll. I haven't thought about this too much, but I'm pretty sure that even if there was one individual who did, it wasn't Bill Haley.

I'm not even sure what rock-n-roll - in terms of mid 1950s standards - is, other than R&B with an upbeat tempo and an attitude. I'm not trying to be glib - I honestly don't know. Alan Freed coined the term in 1951, but what if he hadn't? 

Here's a funny story my dad told me. My father was principal of Eastern Junior High School in the 1950s (up until 1961, I believe, when he opened up White Oak Junior High School). Anyway, he (being named Hilleary Cleveland Rockwell, Jr.) was, for obvious reasons, called "Rock" throughout his adult life. One day, he told me that he was walking down the hallways of Eastern Junior High School, and a group of girls were singing "Rock Around the Clock," and he thought they were openly mocking him (he was 6'2", with a genuine baritone voice, and despite him being as gentle as a lamb, you didn't mock Rock) - he called them into his office and questioned them about it, before realizing that they were just singing a song. (Imagine being named "Rock," and hearing a group of teenage girls singing "We're going to Rock Rock Rock 'till broad daylight - gonna Rock gonna Rock around the clock tonight." Pretty amusing story!

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16 hours ago, DonRocks said:

Hmm, I'm not sure you can say any one individual "founded" rock-n-roll.

I agree. If it weren't for early gospel and blues musicians (i.e. Big Bill Broonzy, Lead Belly, Robert JohnsonRosetta Tharpe), would we have The Rolling Stones? Some of those folks were born in the freakin' 19th century!

That said, here are the Stones covering Mr Berry's "Oh Carol":

Guitar lessons for Keith:

 

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