Chuck Berry: Long Live the King

By Davin Michael Stedman - 100 Miles of Music

The King of Rock & Roll is dead at 90. He wasn’t even MEGA till he was near 30. He is probably the most underrated lyricist, and he is simply the KING because there simply would be no GUITAR ROCK without him. He was the architect.

Elvis pretending to play guitar. Fats, The Killer, Little Richard were chained to their pianos. But Chuck was the poet; the lion stalking the stage with his ax. He had all the original riffs that served as the DNA bridge between jump blues’ downsized evolution from fellow Midwesterner Count Basie’s Big Band jazz that was just the pinnacle of Blues to forgotten Prince of Rock & Rap Louie Jordan.

John Lennon and Berry

…and don’t forget about the checks that bounced Thad Country music owes the man. If Chuck was as White as he positioned himself to be on quintessential songs like Maybelline, he would have had dozens of Country #1’s, but alas he wasn’t going to bend and neither was blatant Racism.

Berry with Keith Richards

Chuck is maybe the greatest country singer and guitar slinger that Nashville never owned. He had more country music in a single strand of his processed hair than Charlie Pride and half the cast of the Grand Ol Opry. Everyone stole his licks he lifted from his hometown, and then distilled into Nuclear weapons that left Keith Richards and a million songs in his long shadow; as majestic as a mushroom cloud.

I am sure he was a dick, like many of my idols like Bob Dylan and Van Morrison. But Chuck is more important than Bob Dylan. Dylan wanted to be Chuck before he discovered Woody Guthrie and he went back to Rock the first chance he had to ditch to coffee house crowd and plug in that electric guitar. Why do you think he went electric?

Do you want proof of how much Chuck has over Dylan?

Subterranean Homesick Blues is just a fantastic rewrite of an equally fantastic Chuck Berry song called, ‘Too Much Monkey Business’. Chuck Berry made Bob Dylan and he made me.

Love live the King; The Mad King is dead.

Listen to ‘Too Much Monkey Business’

About Phil Saunders (10 Articles)
I have been a professional writer since 1988 when I began my career as a music journalist. In 1998 I began working at CBC, after returning to work with a Master's in journalism from the University of Western Ontario. In 2000 I co-produced a feature film that was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival among other North American film festivals. In 2016 I published a book on the Toronto underground music scene called No Flash Please: Underground Music in Toronto 1987-1992. I am also a photographer and documentary filmmaker.