Chuck Berry, Indelible Rock Legend, Duckwalkin’ In The Clouds

I haven’t time to write anything now, but hats off to the father of rock ‘n’ roll, a guy who had it all and knew it all in the mid to late ’50s — a masterful singer-songwriter who played guitar like a ringin’ a bell, a guy who held mountains in the palms of his hands and owned it until…what, ’60 or ’61 or thereabouts? Okay, “Nadine” and “No Particular Place To Go” followed, but for the most part he cruised the nostalgia circuit from around that time on. He was the great Chuck Berry, after all — all he had to was show up, grin and perform “Maybeline”, “Sweet Little Sixteen”, “Roll Over, Beethoven” and “My Ding-a-Ling.” Play on, play on. Respect & condolences.

  • TheRealBadHatHarry

    Somewhere in heaven there’s an angel shitting on a glass table while ol’ Chuck lies underneath. And Mozart and James Joyce applaud.

    • “Too soon”? He was fucking 90, man.

      • TheRealBadHatHarry

        No, too soon for the coprophagia joke I made originally. He was known to be positively Joycian in his ahem…appetites.

        • I didn’t hear he was coprophagic. I heard he was more…how to put this? Trumpian.

          • TheRealBadHatHarry

            There are plenty of sticks lying around to hit Trump with without resorting to that bs stuff, but as for Berry, he may have stopped short of actual, what’s the word, mastication. But it’s pretty well established he never saw a glass tabletop he didn’t want to lie underneath.

            • Chuck Berry, Great Artist – Bad (or Sick) Man!

            • SaulPaul

              This exchange between you and Wells was…shall we say…how to phrase this…hilarious.

  • Dr. New Jersey

    The 2007 documentary, Young@Heart, about old people singing rock and roll annoyed me a bit because so many of the subjects of the film were younger than Chuck Berry.

  • Hud+Homer+Alma+Lonnie

    Rounding third, heading for home. Hail! Hail!

  • Matt of Sleaford

    When legends like Bowie and Prince die, it hits us like a sledgehammer to the gut.
    When guys like Chuck Berry die, it hits legends like Bowie and Prince (and Richards, and Clapton, and Dylan) in the gut.
    RIP Chuck.

  • Marvin can spill the beans now.

  • JoeS

    R.I.P. one of the last of the originals. My suspicious side sometimes feels that those that are chronologically the first in something often get too much praise (it’s wasn’t a great artistic feat to mix the first album in stereo – SOMEbody was eventually going to do so). But, Chuck Berry was more than one of the first rock & roll stars. MUCH more. Berry was an originator in guitar playing, song writing and style. He was a true pioneer.
    Of course, he took from R&B and the Blues masters (like Marty McFly), but Berry made the instrument his own. And, unlike many of his contemporaries, Berry didn’t just sit
    on his laurels and collect tributes. He continued to put our records until the 1980s (with many compilations and some live records afterwards). HAIL HAIL ROCK & ROLL is one of the great concert films. Even when the hits stopped coming, Berry continued to tour, do specials and just played up until the end. Hail, Hail Chuck Berry.

    • MikeSchaeferSF

      Great quote from Jon Pareles’ NY Times obit: “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.” He was a brilliant wordsmith; he took the lives of the first postwar teen generation and turned them into poetry. As a kid, I remember hearing “Memphis” and the line “Marie is only 6 years old…” was the first time I realized that a song could have a twist ending — in effect, I discovered that song lyrics were literature.

  • Jordan Ruimy

    Down to Sonny Burgess, Jerry Lee Lewis [last two original Sun recording artists], Fats Domino, Little Richard and Dion.

    The best, greatest, innovator, inventor of rock n roll, incredible songwriter, inventor of the guitar riff; these kind of accolades for any other artist are pure hyperbole, for Chuck Berry it’s just the simple truth. He was so important to rock n roll that without him there was no Beatles or Rolling Stones.

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  • Gil Padilla

    No Rock and Roll without Chuck Berry. Vaya Con Dios. RIP…

  • Correcting Jeff

    “a guy who held mountains in the palms of his hands until…what, ’60 or ’61 or thereabouts?”

    All Hollywood Elsewhere obits are alike; each unhappy obit is unhappy in its own way.

  • brenkilco

    Weirdly, I always think of Berry like Jean Luc Godard. A brilliant, essential innovator. A very few years of incendiary creativity followed by a half century where the name continues to be reverently invoked but where the man is essentially irrelevant to pop culture. Very few artists of any stripe keep it going over the long haul. Still, honor is due.

    • JoeS

      I’m an admirer of Godard and have seen most of his films, but, he was no Berry. In filmic terms, Berry would be a Mount Rushmore figure like Griffith, Welles, Fellini, Ford or Wilder. Godard had his day and his influence, but, he didn’t define a medium the way Berry did.

      • brenkilco

        I would place Berry higher too. But then I think Godard is somewhat overrated. StilI, I suspect a Jean Luc fan could argue that the father of post modern cinema deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder with the wellspring of rock and roll.

        • JoeS

          I like Godard apparently more than you do, but I would say Godard is “overrated” as the “father of post modern cinema”. There were a Lot of filmmakers in the French and, later, European New Wave.