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The Deep Reaching influence of Chuck Berry

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When you think about the greatest names in rock music, you may think of names such as Lennon, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan. While these performers may have been different in their musical style, they all have one thing in common. All were influenced by the legendary Chuck Berry. The world lost the legend on March 18th when he was found unresponsive at his home. I must admit, that for my whole life, I credited Keith Richards with being the original “riff-master,” but I maybe did not give Berry enough credit. Richards was heavily influenced by the guitar playing of Chuck Berry. Below are some reasons why all of us who have ever picked up a guitar owe a small debt to the guitarist, singer, and showman.

To begin, who doesn’t know the song “Johnny B. Goode?” If you have never heard this song, on a movie, on commercials, on “Back to the Future,” then you have obviously lived under a rock, and its a rock that is miles away from civilization. I remember being asked to perform the guitar to that song one night last year when I performed at a local organization with my band. The chords are not hard, but there is no way I could play the solos and have the showmanship that Chuck Berry had. Berry also had hits such as “Roll Over Beethoven.” Rolling Stone named him as the #6 greatest guitar player of all-time and I would have to really be blown away by numbers 1-5 to not try to argue he should be higher. To the best of my research, his performing career was for 67 years, possibly longer. Some of us won’t live that long even, much less keep our fingers in good enough shape to play guitar like Chuck Berry.

Eric W. Spradlin

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