Say what you will about his personal life, Chuck Berry was an absolute genius that literally defined rock (and roll), taking simplistic blues riffs and “hunka-hunka” lyrics co-opted by his predecessors and driving them into complex melodies driven by his mastery of the new technology of the time: the solid body electric guitar. Berry’s musicianship (and brash showmanship) took the guitar, once relegated to the rhythm section of an ensemble, and brought it to the front with dedicated solos and new playing techniques that would become the basis for popular music into the next century.
Naturally, Berry would be among the inaugural class of inductees at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because without him and the musicians he inspired (including a couple of scousers from Liverpool), the latter half of the twentieth century could have played out remarkably different!
Perhaps it isn’t the best Chuck Berry performance, but his reaction to Yoko Ono’s unintelligible screeching makes this reunion with his friend and protege John Lennon makes this one of my favorite performances!
Let’s not forget, though, the song that he is–literally–immortalized for what might be forever in interstellar space on the Voyager space probe’s Golden Record:
Go, Johnny, go!