Chuck Berry: 10 Strokes Of Genius

AS NEWS OF THE PASSING of rock’n’roll progenitor Chuck Berry sinks in, MOJO celebrates his legacy through 10 of his foundational compositions. Berry was already 29 when his first single on Chicago’s Chess label emerged in 1955 and something of his already-colourful life reflected in his witty, knowing songs. Meanwhile, his rip-and-run guitar style – mashing jumpin’ country and blues in an innovative, roughshod manner – was to blow through a new generation of musical thrill-seekers like a divine wind.

“His already-colourful life reflected in his witty, knowing songs.”

In fact, it was Berry’s version of a country song – the Bob Wills-popularised Ida Red – that convinced label boss Leonard Chess to sign him, and it was that, rejigged as Maybellene, which hit Billboard Number 5 and laid down Berry’s marker. His run of classic Chess singles – generously represented below – were to inspire the second wave of rockers, notably The Rolling Stones, who covered Berry’s Come On (for their first single) and Carol to notable effect.

Enjoy our celebration of Berry’s most important songs and, if you’re already a fan, complain about the absence of Little Queenie, Rock And Roll Music, Carol, Back In The USA in the usual places. It’s a Top 10, so someone has to miss out.