In the past few years, we have highlighted those artists who sparked the flames of rock and roll and gave it the chance to move in all kinds of directions as it became one of the most important musical genres of the latter half of the 20th Century. Where it went and what it has become today is largely because of these icons to whom we dedicated this series.
Our first installment featured Elvis Presley, The Undisputed King of Rock and Roll. That was followed by a tribute to The Everly Brothers, who were important influences on many rock and roll artists, especially The Beatles. When Elvis was hailed as the King of Rock and Roll, on one occasion, he turned and pointed at the audience and said, "There is the true King of Rock and Roll!" He was pointing to Fats Domino, who was the subject of Installment #3. Part 4 led us to some one with whom many of us grew up through the art of television; Ricky Nelson became part of our household just like his family did.
No series of this sort would be complete if it did not include that young man who took the then "raw" songs of rhythm, blues and soul, added a little toothpaste to clean them up, and infused a whole enchilada of charm into those songs as they reached the top of the charts, thus affording the "originals" more sales and air play than they would ever have had without his help. Not yet inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, we suspect that event is coming. Although some have tried, no one can really dispute the part played in the story of rock and roll by the focus of our 5th installment, Mr. Pat Boone.
For #6, and final installment, as you could probably guess, was none other than CHUCK BERRY.
His break came when he traveled to Chicago in May 1955, and met Muddy Waters, who suggested he contact Leonard Chess of Chess Records. At Chess he recorded his big one, "Maybellene"—Berry's adaptation of the country song "Ida Red"—which sold over a million copies,reaching No. 1 on Billboard's Rhythm and Blues chart. By the end of the 1950s, Berry was an established star with several major hit records and film appearances to his name as well as a lucrative touring career. He had also established his own St. Louis-based nightclub called Berry's Club Bandstand. But in January 1962, he was sentenced to three years in prison for offenses under the Mann Act—he had transported a 14-year-old girl across state lines. After his release in 1963, Berry had several more hits, including "No Particular Place to Go", "You Never Can Tell", and "Nadine", but these did not achieve the same kind of success, or lasting impact, of his 1950s songs, and by the 1970s he was more in demand as a nostalgic popular live performer, playing his past hits with local backup bands of variable quality. Berry was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986, with the comment that he "laid the groundwork for not only a rock and roll sound but a rock and roll stance." Berry is included in several Rolling Stone "Greatest of All Time" lists including being ranked fifth on their 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll included three of Chuck Berry's songs: "Johnny B. Goode", "Maybellene", and "Rock and Roll Music". Today – at the age of 85 – Berry continues to play live.
CHUCK'S MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS
A CHUCK BERRY TRIBUTE:
BECAUSE WE HAVE NOW BEGUN A LARGER TOPIC (SINGING LEGENDS),
THIS PAGE WOULD BE A REDUPLICATION OF EFFORTS. SO, WE RETIRE THIS PAGE
TO OUR ARCHIVES AND REFER YOU TO THE LEGENDS PAGE WHERE WE WILL INDICATE
THOSE FOLKS WHO WERE SPECIAL CONTRIBUTORS TO ROCK AND ROLL, AS WE COVER
THEM. WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED OUR LOOK AT ROCK AND ROLL'S BEGINNERS.