Some people claim that Elvis Presley was the king of rock und roll. This “people” are greatly media species or “fans” who never ever played a note in their lives. They based their opinions ~ above his popularity, his singing and perhaps his “sex appeal,” and not top top his musical abilities or real impact top top music.

Du schaust: The king of rock and roll

After all, Elvis never ever wrote a song an his life and probably had wenig input right into his record sessions. He nur did what the Colonel told ihm to do, complied with other people’s orders and suggestions—and made millions.

Contrast that with the real king of rock and roll — futter Berry.

Chuck created over 300 songs. Many covered von a complete range von other musicians consisting of The rolling Stones, The Beatles, and just about every band that ever dubbed themselves a rock and roll band. More garages schutz heard Chuck beere songs than 8 cylinder engines.

Only one song made #1 on Billboard Charts – My ding A Ling — solid his best. Really just a novelty song. But to say he had an enormous affect on music und the development des rock und roll ist perhaps bei understatement.

When it came to recording und performing his songs, futter knew nur what that wanted—and demanded allegiance native his musicians—at least bei the studio. His stubbornness and temper are legendary—just asking Keith Richards. Much more from Keith in a bit…

You kann vote zum your choice below…

But first let’s aufführen to futter at his best…

And there was a dark side kommen sie Chuck.

As much as die law, chuck was frequently on die wrong side of it. That went kommen sie prison multiple times and escaped spending even more time through ns grace des the courts and just plain luck.

Yes the was an ornery son of a bitch, even though he was brought up middle-class bei St. Louis, Missouri und by all accounts go not schutz a difficult life farming up.

As far as make money goes…

Chuck berry never made the millions that Elvis did. He did well yet never what he deserved. His lieder were play millions des times by thousands of bands however he never ever seemed get the recognition that others with less talent did. Probably due to the racism des the time.

Could he still have make more?

No question… yet his stubbornness and that big chip ~ above his shoulder got bei the way.

Take his 60th date of birth Party, arranged by Keith Richards und recorded zum posterity in the movie “Hail, Hail, Rock und Roll”. Watching that movie mirrors that dark side von Berry. His treatment von Keith Richards, that idolized him, mirrors that he didn’t understand the impact his music had actually on other musicians, that would have gladly helped ihm reach neu heights if he just let them. Yet instead he offered Keith a ration des shit and almost came zu blows with er during rehearsal.

By the time the das was cast. Years des disrespect, and perhaps the racism, made er a grumpy, erbitterter man.

Actually, systemic racism was probably at ns heart von it — ns rock and roll system von the 50’s the is.

Back then, sam Phillips des Sun Studios realized this great schwarz musicians prefer Berry und Little Richard, and all ns great blues artists he recorded, would never hit it big because they to be black. That’s why Phillips promoted und recorded Elvis Presley over ns other black rock und rollers like Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, that he deshalb recorded. Elvis was the safe, white alternative… together with Pat Boone and others who extended his tunes.

As boston Globe writer Renée Graham eloquently said…

“In the 1950s, when berry was punkt his an imaginative zenith, both Presley and Pat Boone were outselling him. Hinweisen least Presley might flat-out sing and inject a das lied with tension und swagger; über comparison, Boone, who made declawed versions of such standards as wenig Richard’s “Tutti Frutti” und Fats domino’s “Ain’t that a Shame,” was a warm bowl of vanilla ice cream. He was comfort food zum a land terrified that rock ’n’ roll, a colloquialism zum sex, would certainly corrupt tender white minds and morals.”

If Chuck berry didn’t resent just how he was treated the wouldn’t be human. So chuck went with life through that chip ~ above his shoulder.

So the only ones who really appreciated him were other musicians.

But why? What make Chuck berry So Great?

Several factors gestanden out about futter Berry.

He created how to play rock und roll guitarHis melodies were original and his lyrics were nothing short of poetryHis phase showmanship was unique und crowd-pleasing.

Let’s dig a wenig deeper right into each of these.

Guitar Playing

Any of the millions von guitar players that started an the 50’s und 60’s spent much of their early breakthrough learning Chuck berry licks. His lied introductions on etc were specifically his own und were a mix of simplicity, groove and creativity. I’m still trying to master castle myself ~ 50 years.

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And his rhythm etc playing, particularly on johnny B. Goode, role Over Beathoven und others, defined rock and roll rhythms over there after. Keith Richards und George Harrison, together with thousands des others, picked hoch many des their rock rhythm parts directly from him.

Here’s my favorite chuck intro und lead…

But chuck would admit that he gott his etc playing native his idols — mostly from T-bone pedestrian who’s stage moves und playing behind his head he had actually copied.

His vocal layout he gott from the smooth, articulate singing of Nat könig Cole.

But those intros that created zum songs like johnny B. Goode, role Over Beethoven and Little Queenie were all his own. He designed them und we musicians have been trying to learn them ever since. Again asking Keith Richards who is probably die leading curator des the Chuck berry legacy.

The Lyrics

Perhaps the most underated part des Chuck’s ability set was his lyric writing. He had actually a knack zum coming up with stories und language the captured the spirit von the times. Who kann argue that a lied like Nadine doesn’t fill die mind with imagery from die era, all while gift perfectly bei the groove.


As I got on a city bus and found mine vacant seat, i thought ich saw mine future bridewalking up die street, ich shouted zu the driver hey conductor freundin must slowdown, you re welcome let me off this bus

Nadine, honey is that you. Oh, Nadine. Honey, zu sein that you? Seems choose everytime i see freundin Darling you got something else to do.

I saw her from die corner wie she turned and doubled back und started walking towards a coffee fancy Cadillac. I’s advertise through the crowd trying to get to where she’s at, ich was campaign shoutin favor a southern diplomat.

Downtown searching zum her, looking every around. Saw herstellung getting in a yellowcab headed up town.

Caught a invited taxi, paid trost everybody’s tab. Flipped atwenty dollar bill, told him ‘catch the yellow cab.

She moves about like a wayward summer breeze, go, driver, go, go, record herfor me please. Relocating thru die traffic favor a an installed cavalier. Leaning outthe taxi window trying kommen sie make produziert hear.

And that groove…

A great rock and roll groove zu sein a subtle thing. That makes you want to bob your heard and shake your butt but still has a way des swinging that just can’t it is in explained. I’m sure it’s that combination von simple bass und Johnny Johnson’s piano playing, merged with Chuck’s unique parts.

Well the groove zu sein one of the great marvels of music wie played correctly… like NRBQ does here.

That groove takes musician who recognize their role. The parts are simple but ns whole create something brand new and unique. It takes years prior to you can even hear ns difference bolzen the correct groove und what most von us played when first learning Johnnie B. Goode rückseitig when. I’d show an example but it’s best zu leave resting dogs lie.

The stage Show

On stage, check constantly had a wry laugh on his face—like that knew the joke—and freundin didn’t. He constantly enunciated his words so there was no question about what he was singing. Und those lyrics constantly appealed to white audiences… and the kids. He knew what they to be doing und thinking und wrote about it.

He always seemed prefer he was singing to someone—eyes large open and looking around. That definitely linked with his audience.

And the zeigen included playing guitar behind his head favor his hero T-Bone Walker. But his signature move was ns “duck walk” he did. He might do the well into his 70’s and never let go a wahrscheinlichkeit to nur it off.

The Band

Chess Records had actually one des the an excellent house bands in history. Mostly led by Willie Dixon, the great bass player und blues das lied writer, Chuck’s recording band knew what kommen sie do. Und with Johnnie Johnson on piano and Jasper Thomas (and others) on die drums, lock grooved like aufleuchten to Chuck’s songs.

Of course, when futter went on the road the gittern went down. He never took a eis on die road v him. He just picked trost bands together he went, typically supplied über the promoter. Even Bruce Springsteen’s eis backed up chuck on ns road. Most des the time he wasn’t dafür lucky. There’s plenty of videos on youtube of ihm playing v some very mediocre bands. Chuck should oase been embarassed but he nur took ns money and ran. Imagine what his heritage would schutz been if he had taken Johnnie Johnson und Wille Dixon on the road with him. Those videos would be worth seeing.

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The fact is, there’s notfall many bands that kann sein really perform that thing they did. The maßband that Keith Richards placed together zum the relocate Hail, Hail Rock und Roll can do it. The band included Steve Jordon on drums und Joey Spampanato (NRBQ) ~ above bass, together with Richards und Johnson. Offer a aufführen below.

Voting Time

So you be the judge. Ist Elvis the king or is this stubborn, ornery genius with die chip top top his shoulder the king of Rock und Roll?

John lennon said, “if sie tried to give rock und roll another name, you might speak to it ‘Chuck Berry’.”

Ted Nugent said, “If sie don’t recognize every Chuck berry lick, freundin can’t play absent guitar.”

Bob dylan called beere “the Shakespeare des rock ‘n’ roll”. Springsteen tweeted, “Chuck berry was rock’s best practitioner, guitarist, and the biggest pure absent ‘n’ roll writer who ever before lived.”