My plans for what I was going to write tonight were scuppered when I caught the breaking news that Chuck Berry died today.
The man was a legend - a word that’s often overused but never more justified - and one of the biggest driving forces in rock music, who was still out gigging to the end. His riffs, sound and lyrics were the root of rock & roll, inspiring Buddy, Elvis, The Beatles, The Stones, The Who and pretty much anyone who's picked up an electric guitar. Not only didn’t he almost single-handedly invent the genre he worked in, he was the first to write for it with real wit. He wove intricate stories into his songs like no-one else; least of all anyone writing around the twelve-bar blues.
He’d become infamous in recent years for some questionable sexual habits and for regularly touring without a permanent band (he’d often just opt for local musicians without any rehearsal), but before all this, he lay the groundwork for a style of music that will live long after he and his contemporaries have passed. The man wrote Johnny B. Goode, for Christ's sake; don’t let Marty McFly tell you any different.
In the mid-1970s, John Lennon was forced into releasing a few Berry numbers as part of a lawsuit brought about by his re-appropriating of the lyrics to You Can’t Catch Me in the Beatles’ Come Together. I believe this indirectly led to the appearance below. Despite being rough around the edges, it’s still great; Chuck's one brown-eyed handsome man who will be sorely missed.