Johnny B. Goode

johnny b goode chuck berryThe song Johnny B. Goode has proved to be the number one song in rock n’ roll history, with more than 25 covers by many iconic bands. Recorded by guitarist and songwriter Chuck Berry, the song was released on March 31st of 1958 by Chess Records, immediately striking the music scene and later becoming rock’s best representation.

Spoken by Chuck Berry himself in 1972 to the Rolling Stone Magazine, the song is a fictional-autobiographical reference of the songwriter’s climb to stardom.

Similar to Johnny B. Goode’s story of a poor country boy who becomes a rock star, Berry was working as a beautician in Chicago in 1955, when he met Chess Records’ main star Muddy Waters.  Waters referred him to Leonard Chess, co-owner of the record label he was working with, and by 1959 Chuck Berry had become a legend in the world of rock.

Johnny B. Goode reached #8 on Billboard’s pop charts not only due to Chuck Berry’s energy filled guitar play, but also due to cultural role the song played upon its release. The themes that were covered by music players have always been ample, but until 1958’s release of Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode, there had been no songs developing the ‘American Dream’. The song talks about a poor country boy who rises to stardom, despite his unprivileged resources. The message of hope was identified and understood by many, making Johnny B. Goode an pop icon that has since been utilized by the media to represent not only the essence of rock n’ roll, but also the attainable opportunities behind U.S.A.’s famous dictum.

One of the most acclaimed popular references to Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode appears on the film Back to the Future that opened in 1985. After travelling back in time to 1955, protagonist Marty Mc. Fly plays the hit song at a High School Dance, after the band’s guitarist Marvin Berry (note Berry) injures his hand.

In the middle of McFly’s futuristic performance, Marvin calls his cousin Chuck to listen-on, to which Chuck says is the “new sound [he’s] been looking for.”

The song has also been used in the presidential campaigns of candidates John Kerry in 2004, and John McCain in 2008 as a resource to appeal to bigger audiences while representing the U.S.’ reputation as the ‘land of opportunity.’

Johhny B. Goode was recorded by Chuck Berry on guitar, Willie Dixon on bass, Fred Below on drums and Lafayette Leak on piano, for the album ‘Chuck Berry is on Top.’ The number one covered song in music history, Johnny B. Goode was interpreted by over 25 bands and artists. These include B.B. King, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Sex Pistols, Johnny Winter, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Beatles.

Due to its popularity,  later in his career Berry recorded songs with the names ‘Bye Bye Johnny’, ‘Go Go Go’ and an album named ‘Concerto in B. Goode’, extending the legacy of the tune.

Truly a song of the people and for the people, when Johnny B. Goode plays it’s hard not to be reminded of the opportunities life can bring to even the most unfortunate.  With Johnny B. Goode, Berry stroke a chord of hope for the people of the world, creating a new thread to the themes that can be addressed by the music repertoire. One of the first musicians to be inducted to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, Berry still continues to perform, tour and record today.

“If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry'” John Lennon

Well, here is my version, I am doing the Jimmy hendrix version


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  1. Pingback: Johnny B. Goode – Chuck Berry | Ear Music

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