6

Chuck Berry: 1926-2017

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
In the same spirit of the evolutionary question, "What comes after Music," I ask how does one simply acknowledge, if not pay homage, to what is beyond Greatness? The Saturday, March 18th New York Times did not do bad with:

"While Elvis Presley was rock's first pop star and teenage heartthrob, Mr. Berry was its master theorist and conceptual genius, the songwriter who understood what the kids wanted before they knew themselves. With songs like "Johnny B. Goode" and "Roll Over Beethoven," he gave his listeners more than they knew they were getting from jukebox entertainment."

..."he gave his listeners more than they knew they were getting from jukebox entertainment." The Brown-eyed Handsome man, Chuck Berry, has been assumed into R&R Heaven, creating a new Holy Day of Obligation for every music lover. He leaves at a time when his initial messages of high-school good times, boys, girls, parties, and all the things that make being humans, human is needed more badly than ever. Rock & Roll's Apostle Paul has finally come home.

Berry was egalitarian, appealing to a white audience of teenagers and young adults having the initial stirrings of epiphany that Jim Crow America is not America but something far more malignant. A Malignancy that stubbornly remains today, untreatable, and presently enjoying a new era of popularity. March 31, 1958, Chuck Berry released: "Johnny B. Goode," mere months before this author showed up himself. Fourteen years later, having heard Johnny Winter's searing performance of the same at the Fillmore East, I was teaching myself to play this song, just as millions of other pimply-faced white boys did. Never mastered that essential introduction, but I played the song a trillions times.

It is the brutal existential fact that we will all die. While I am quite comfortable with my own, I am not so comfortable with the deaths of others. When a talent and personality like Chuck Berry passes on, a temporal and cultural vacuum is created that is in danger of being filled with something inferior, often vastly so.

Post a comment

Watch

Tags

View events near St. Louis
Jazz Near St. Louis
Events Guide | Venue Guide | Get App | More...

Shop Amazon

More

Popular

Read John Coltrane: An Alternative Top Ten Albums
Read Tony Bennett: A Hero's Journey in Authenticity
Beauty, Love and Justice: Living A Coltranian Life
Tony Bennett: A Hero's Journey in Authenticity
Read Steve Reich: Humans Love to See Other Humans Play Music

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.