Many people regard Elvis Presley as the king of rock and roll but I must disagree. For me Chuck Berry is the true king. When I think of Chuck I think of him playing Johnny.B.Goode with his famous red 335 guitar and doing his duck walk.
Of course Chuck was far more than one song and a stage gimmick even if it was great to watch. In the words of John Lennon ”if rock and roll were to be given another name it would be called Chuck Berry”.
Chucks early influences are in the blues but it wasn’t till he combined his rhythm and blues with his country style guitar licks that his musical sound came together.
His famous intro to Johnny.B.Goode and a few of his other classic songs i.e.roll over Beethoven are played using a mix of the major and minor scale but it was the way he mixed them and his brilliant use of double stops [ two strings played together] that created the unique Chuck Berry sound.
If you listen to a slightly more obscure Berry track, Down Bound Train you get to hear the skill of his lyric writing as he tells a story of souls lost on a train with the devil at the wheel, a fantastic song and with Chuck playing some great guitar including his trademark double stops its one of my favourites.
Chuck mostly played a Gibson 335 guitar, which is a semi acoustic guitar. He played straight into all valve fender amps on full volume to give him his sweet tone.
Not only did chuck have great songs and invent a new sound he was a fantastic showman. He invented the duck walk and could do the splits while still playing a blistering solo!
Chucks best decades were the 50s and 60s but in the 70s and 80s his music became less fashionable and he resorted to picking up his bands from town to town. Great music never dies though and his music has stood the test of time. If you are a young budding guitarist learning some of Chucks licks is a must and great fun also!
Chuck playing Johnny.B.Goode duck walking across the stage with his 335 is an image that won’t soon be forgotten.