Hail, hail, and farewell to one of the founding fathers of rock and roll.
Chuck Berry, who died this past weekend at the age of ninety, was the man who put the the rhythm and the blues into a new sound that was different from rhythm and blues. He gave rock and roll the crisp, electric, intensely fun sound that defines it, and from three little chords he produced songs about everything from teen romance and cars to paternity issues and rock stardom. Every rock and roll star from the Beatles to the Black Keys could and can trace the origins of their sound to him. As Robert Christgau once said, Berry taught a whole generation of rock and rollers how to play guitar before he ever met any of them. Keith Richards gives Berry credit for everything he knows about rock and roll, and John Lennon once said that if rock and roll had another name, it would be Chuck Berry.
I don't think I can say anything about Chuck Berry that hasn't already been said by everyone else . . . in fact, my review of his compilation album The Great Twenty-Eight says it all. Needless to say, rock and roll, already in bad shape these days, has suffered its biggest loss in decades, the loss of one of its progenitors. RIP. :-(