Tuesday, March 21, 2017

3.21.17 Hero of the Day: Chuck Berry

Bee-otch of the Day honors are awarded Monday through Thursday, Bee-otch of the Week is awarded Friday on Chuck69.com.


Name: Chuck Berry
Age: was 90
Occupation: rock 'n roller
Last Seen: in the Great Beyond
Awarded For: being the man who made rock 'n roll what it is

July 9, 1955 will be a day that will live in the hearts and minds of rock music fans everywhere.

It was the day Bill Haley and His Comets went straight to #1 on the Billboard pop charts with a little song called "Rock Around the Clock". With its raw, young sound, teens everywhere went crazy over it. While some wished that it would die, rock 'n roll is still alive and well, almost 62 years later.

Haley would help to usher in new faces and voices in the world of music. Out were the vanilla sounds of Doris Day and Perry Como and in were the wild sounds of Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and a young kid from Tupelo named Elvis.

And yes, there was a bluesman from St. Louis named Charles Edward Anderson Berry.

The fourth out of six kids, Berry was the son of a church deacon. However, he was somewhat of a devil, going to a reformatory during his teenage years after being charged with armed robbery. However, he became a fan of blues music and started performing with the Johnnie Johnson Trio in the 1950s. He visited Chicago where he met Leonard Chess from Chess Records, who liked what he heard from the then-29-year-old Berry. In 1955, his ode to a car, "Maybellene" hit #5 on the Billboard charts. Other big hits followed, such as "Roll Over Beethoven", "Rock and Roll Music", "Sweet Little Sixteen" and what some have called his signature, "Johnny B. Goode". Audiences dug his unique guitar playing style and yes, that infamous cock walk that banded blacks and whites together in a segregated society.

Berry's fame extended to the 1960s with his #10 hit "No Particular Place to Go" in 1964 and the fact that his music would inspire many of the rockers of the era: The Beatles (who covered several Berry tunes such as "Rock 'n Roll Music" and "Sweet Little Sixteen") and The Rolling Stones just to name a few. However for Berry, the hits dried up, though he was still a top concert draw.

However, in 1972, the floodgates opened for him at least once more, thanks to a song about masturbation.

Written by Dave Bartholomew - who is still alive and well at 98 years old - Berry performed his song "My Ding-a-Ling" at the Coventry Arts Festival in England in 1972. It was released as a single in the US, where it became Berry's first and only #1 hit. Although some radio stations banned the song because of its double entendres, it went gold and yes, it was even lampooned on The Simpsons.

Throughout the years, Berry still performed and recorded well into his 80s. He was even one of the first people inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. Chuck left this earth on Saturday at the age of 90 from natural causes. Tributes poured in from fellow rock legends to new stars, rockers, country stars and you name it. After all, it was John Lennon who once said, "If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'."

Hail, hail rock 'n roll. Hail, hail Chuck Berry.

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