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Chuck Berry was one of the earliest influences on the
It goes without saying that Chuck Berry is one of the most important building blocks in American music (and the world!), and his influence has made its way to almost everyone’s playing. There are of course the things that everyone knows, like his rock ‘n’ roll rhythm playing that helped define the genre, but there are lots of other little quirky things that have inspired many.
In this Chuck Berry guitar lesson, you’ll check out some of his techniques and how to use them over a performance study with Johnny B Goode tabs and more.
Johnny B Goode Video
Johnny B Goode Tabs
About Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry was an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist who pioneered rock ‘n’ roll music. Nicknamed the “Father of Rock and Roll”, he refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive with songs such as “Maybellene” (1955), “Roll Over Beethoven” (1956), “Rock and Roll Music” (1957) and “Johnny B. Goode” (1958). Writing lyrics that focused on teen life and consumerism, and developing a music style that included
Born into a middle-class black family in St. Louis, Berry had an interest in music from an early age and gave his first public performance at Sumner High School. While still a high school student he was convicted of armed robbery and was sent to a reformatory, where he was held from 1944 to 1947. After his release, Berry settled into married life and worked at an automobile assembly plant. By early 1953, influenced by the
By the end of the 1950s, Berry was an established star, with several hit records and film appearances, and a lucrative touring career. He had also established his own St. Louis nightclub, Berry’s Club Bandstand. He was sentenced to three years in prison in January 1962 for offenses under the Mann Act—he had transported a 14-year-old girl across state lines for the purpose of having sexual intercourse. After his release in 1963, Berry had several more successful songs, including “No Particular Place to Go”, “You Never Can Tell”, and “Nadine”. However, these did not achieve the same success or lasting impact as his 1950s songs, and by the 1970s he was more in demand as a nostalgia performer, playing his past material with local backup bands of variable quality. In 1972 he reached a new level of achievement when a rendition of “My Ding-a-Ling” became his only record to top the charts. His insistence on being paid in cash led in 1979 to a four-month jail sentence and community service, for tax evasion.
Berry was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986; he was cited for having “laid the groundwork for not only a rock and roll sound but a rock and roll stance.” Berry is included in several of Rolling Stone magazine’s “greatest of all time” lists; he was ranked fifth on its 2004 and 2011 lists of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll includes three of Berry’s: “Johnny B. Goode”, “Maybellene”, and “Rock and Roll Music.” Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” is the only rock-and-roll song included on the Voyager Golden Record.