Belatedly, goodnight to Chuck Berry. Almost everything that has been worthwhile in rock music for 60-odd years has derived from his clever, knowing, mix of cracker-country and black blues.
Most of the guitar solos you ever heard had their roots in that raucous and effective two string – E and b – chiming of Chuck’s: ‘like he was ringin’ a bell.’ I can’t think of anyone who was more influential within the confines of that most conservative of mediums, rock n roll. Dylan, maybe, later, I’d grant you. Berry took the best riffs from the dead old blues giants and made them effervesce, allied them to a country bass motif and invented a genre which appealed to black and white alike.
His passing hasn’t received a tenth of the attention which was jubilantly doled out to Mercury, Bowie, Reed. And yet his importance was indeed about tenfold of those others. Fiftyfold in the case of Mercury. Perhaps it was because Berry’s rock n roll was definitely blue collar. I can’t think of another reason.