Chuck Berry died today at the age of 90 and he was the true king of rock and roll. Fans of Elvis Presley will want to fight this but it’s true. While Presley was a great singer and entertainer, the contributions that Berry made to American music put Presley’s legacy to shame.
Here are just some of the reasons why Chuck Berry deserves to wear the rock and roll gold crown.
He was a musical pioneer: Several music historians consider “Maybellene,” one of Chuck Berry’s earliest works, to be the world’s first rock and roll song, Biography notes. “Maybellene” did a lot for Chuck Berry’s career at the time and his legacy. The foundation of the song is a rhythm and blues beat, with country-infused guitar riffs and clever storytelling laid on top of it. The song got Chuck a recording contract with Chess Records in 1955 and provided an archetype that musicians would follow long afterwards.
His lyrics spoke to the teen audience like no other artist did at the time:
Chuck embraced the teen perspective in his songs and that was one of the biggest reasons, besides his talent, for his immense popularity during his heyday. For example, in “Maybellene,” with his lyrics about fast cars, drag races, and unfaithful girlfriends, he embodied an era of teen rebelliousness that gave rock and roll the swagger that became one of its hallmarks.
He identified that as the factor that set him apart from his predecessors.
“Everything I wrote about wasn’t about me but [was about] the people listening.” he once said in an interview, as reported by Billboard
He inspired both the Beatles and The Rolling Stones and countless others In fact, John Lennon once said that If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it “Chuck Berry.” Paul McCartney once called Berry “one of greatest poets America has ever produced.”
Just let me hear some of that rock 'n' roll music any old way you use it I am playing I'm talking about you. God bless Chuck Berry Chuck ???? pic.twitter.com/XmwmaGzGpL— #RingoStarr (@ringostarrmusic) March 18, 2017
As for the Rolling Stones, they covered a long list of Berry’s songs during their career. As Rolling Stone Magazine reports, the band’s first single was a cover of Berry’s “Come On.” The Stones also sang renditions of Berry’s “Around and Around,” “Carol,” and “Little Queenie” among others.
The Rolling Stones shared a heartfelt tribute to the rock and roll pioneer via a written statement.
“The Rolling Stones are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Chuck Berry,” the statement read. “He was a true pioneer of rock & roll and a massive influence on us. Chuck was not only a brilliant guitarist, singer and performer, but most importantly, he was a master craftsman as a songwriter. His songs will live forever.”
Hoy cumple 90 años Chuck Berry, cantante, compositor, guitarrista e influencia para muchos músicos, por ejemplo de The Rolling Stones. pic.twitter.com/95AS4tW34r— Reactor 105.7 FM (@Reactor105) October 18, 2016
Mick Jagger put out a separate statement in tribute to Berry. Here’s the full text below.
“I am so sad to hear of Chuck Berry’s passing. I want to thank him for all the inspirational music he gave to us. He lit up our teenage years, and blew life into our dreams of being musicians and performers. His lyrics shone above others and threw a strange light on the American dream. Chuck, you were amazing, and your music is engraved inside us forever.”
You can also hear Chuck Berry’s influence on songs by Jimi Hendrix, The Beach Boys, and Bruce Springsteen.
When you influence the greats, what does that make you. Short answer: the greatest. That’s who Chuck Berry was.
RIP to Chuck Berry, the true king of rock and roll
RELATED POSTS ON INQUISITR
[Featured Images by AP Images and RCA Victor/AP Images]