"I grew up thinking art was pictures until I got into music and found I was an artist and didn't paint." (Chuck Berry)
"If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry." (John Lennon)
The origins of rock music claim several founding fathers, with each perspective holding merit and directly contributing to the golden age to follow in rock music. While Elvis Presley remains perhaps the most high-profile figure of early rock, he was not truly a member of the first generation. If anything he was a product of a slightly older wave of groundbreaking artists.
Appearing immediately before Presley's rise was Texan Buddy Holly, whose borrowings from driving black rhythms blended with white lyrics to make him one of the first successful crossover artists. However, perhaps the first and ultimately the most successful of this category - those artistic explorers who most effectively blurred racial and political lines through their music - was Chuck Berry: an African-American blues and country singer/guitarist/songwriter. He perfectly blended the prevailing forms of his generation to attract both black and white audiences with a virtuosity and originality that set the bar for the next half century.
Unlike Presley, and more in the manner of Holly, Chuck Berry wrote his own classics. And he thrived as both a composer and lyricist based on his early love of poetry and hard blues, jump blues jazzy ballads, boogie-woogie, and hillbilly music.
©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors