Michael’s Music Blog Volume IV: Chuck Berry

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Michael Rock

Chuck Berry, a master of rock ‘n’ roll, died in St. Louis on March 18 at the age of 90. In a genre that now encompasses many different styles and subgenres, it can be hard to pinpoint the pioneers and trailblazers that made the genre what it is today. Berry, however, was without a doubt one of the most important figures in rock history.

It’s impossible to overstate the impact Chuck Berry had on music. John Lennon famously said, “if you wanted to call rock ‘n’ roll by a different name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’”. Songs such as “Johnny B. Goode”, “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Rock and Roll Music” provided the first examples of the new, exciting genre of rock ‘n’ roll. During a career spanning over 60 years, Berry was a mainstay in the music scene. Whether he was releasing albums or playing small live shows in his hometown of St. Louis, Chuck Berry was continually involved in perpetuating the genre of music that he brought to the forefront of the American and international conscious.

Unfortunately, when placed next to musicians such as Elvis Presley and The Beatles, Chuck Berry is often overlooked. Everyone knows the song “Johnny B. Goode” from “Back to the Future”, but most people’s knowledge of Berry ends there. I can only hope that his passing and the international coverage it has received will lead to a new generation of listeners discovering and enjoying Berry’s music.

Chuck Berry lived to the age of 90, long enough to see his music become known all over the world. When one takes into account how many musicians fall victim to the hedonistic lifestyle associated with being a rock star, it’s miraculous that Berry made it to such an old age. We are all lucky that we were able to be exposed to such a genius for so long.

Last year, Berry announced the release of his 20th studio album, simply named “Chuck”. Now that Berry has passed, this album is set to be the swansong of one of the greatest and most influential musicians of all time. The album, set to be released on June 16, will serve as the bookend of old fashioned rock music. It will be our final chance to pay homage to the man who, for all intents and purposes, invented rock ‘n’ roll.