Born: October 18, 1926 Primary Instrument: Guitar, electric
Inspired by the electrified Delta blues of Muddy Waters, the wild showmanship of T-Bone Walker and Guitar Slim, the smooth crooning of Nat “King” Cole, and the storytelling of Hank Williams, Chuck Berry scrambled his influences and came out with a concoction that was uniquely his own.
The screaming, overdriven guitar intro to “Maybelline,” Berry’s Chess Records debut, tells the story, walloped with the power of the blues, honed to perfection. Berry’s Chess sides sound fully formed, solid, the raw power of a band of incredible musicians led by a true musical visionary. Even today, they come howling out of speakers like pure energy. Loose, swinging, grooving, Berry’s songs are nearly perfect. The classics he penned are too many to mention. Here are just a few: “Maybelline,” “No Money Down,” “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” “Rock and Roll Music,” “Reelin’ and Rockin’,” “Johnny B. Goode,” “Around and Around,” “Carol,” “Let It Rock,” “Come On,” “Nadine (Is it You?),” and “Roll Over Beethoven....