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The Pop Culture Influence of Chuck Berry

CHUCK BERRY: ROCK’N’ROLL PIONEER

Chuck Berry was one of the most copied musicians of our time, an American rock pioneer. In addition to writing such American guitar classics as “Johnny B. Goode” and “Roll Over Beethoven,” Berry helped break down racial barriers in the music industry, as one of the first Black musicians to perform to predominantly white audiences.

In 1952, he joined the Sir John’s Trio, where he first met Johnnie Johnson. The two began to collaborate on several of Berry’s hit songs, including, “Johnny B. Goode,” “Nadine,” “Carol,” and “School Days.”

Berry got his big break in 1955, after traveling to Chicago to meet with legendary Blues artist Muddy Waters, who suggested he speak to the head of Chess Records… and the rest is history, as they say.

Sadly, the 90-year-old musician died at his home in St. Charles County, Missouri, on March 18th, according to The Associated Press.

In memory of the rock’n’roll legend, we at Salute have put together a list of some of our favorites songs along with some fitting tributes we hope you will enjoy.

THE EXTRA BEATLE

Chuck Berry famously appeared on the Mike Douglas Show in 1972 with the ex-Beatle John Lennon and Yoko Ono for a performance of his song “Memphis, Tennessee.”

GRATEFUL COVERS

The Grateful Dead have performed Chuck Berry’s songs a collective 1,125 times since 1970.

According to Setlist.fm, “The Promised Land,” was performed 427 times by the Dead. It was also performed by Dave Edmunds and Johnnie Allen.

“Around and Around” was performed by the Dead a whopping 417 times. It was also performed by The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and many others.

HAIL HAIL ROCK’N’ROLL

Chuck Berry also performed with the late-Etta James, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards in the film Hail! Hail! Rock & Roll!

MARTY MCFLY ROCKS SCHOOL DANCE

Director Robert Zemeckis joked about how Berry’s music was so influential in his beloved time-traveling movie trilogy, Back to the Future, when Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) decides to bust out some classic guitar riffs at his parent’s school dance.

We’re introduced to Marvin Berry, played by Harry Waters Jr., after performing a rendition of “Earth Angel,” by The Penguins.

As Marty breaks out in song, you can see him pose as Berry on stage… meanwhile, you hear Martin Berry on the phone with his cousin Chuck, who tells him to “listen to this.”

The joke was a play on how so many musicians, over the years, stole Berry’s work. But it became one of the most memorable scenes in the film.

MY DING-A-LING

If there is any show you can count on to make a socially relevant joke about a famous rock musician, it has to be The Simpsons.

In this video we see an unknown student sing along to the chorus of Chuck Berry’s classic, “My Ding-a-ling,” much to the disappointment of Principal Seymour Skinner.

FAREWELL CHUCK

We hope you have enjoyed some of our favorite quips about a truly emblematic guitarist. Although Berry is no longer with us, his music and influence will dominate pop culture forever.

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