Over the years, writers and musicians have praised Chuck Berry's music. Here are some quotes about the rock 'n roll visionary, who died Saturday at age 90:
Performing during the “Legends of Rock 'n' Roll” at the Hallenstadion in Zurich, Switzerland.
July 28, 1998
“If rock 'n' roll has a patron saint, it is – arguably – not Elvis or Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis but Chuck Berry. While he may not have created rock 'n' roll with 'Maybelline,' his first recording in 1955, with it and the string of hits that followed, he introduced melodies and rhythms that became an essential part of the music. Moreover, Berry codified the genre, defining its subject matter: cars and the open road; boys and guitars; girls sought after, lost and, occasionally, won; the urge towards freedom from parents and other authority.” – The Washington Post, 1987.
“What an amazing thing it must have been to see Berry for the first time, with his pencil-thin mustache and elaborately curled hair, his full drape jacket and tight slacks, take his guitar (slung at crotch level, as all the rhythm-and-blues guitarists had been doing...), point it at a right angle to his body, and, while he played a tricky but repetitive riff, execute a strange walk across the Paramount stage, bobbing his head and squatting, looking for all the world like a duck!” – “Rock of Ages: The Rolling Stone History of Rock & Roll.”
“From the (Beatles') earliest efforts, Chuck Berry songs had been a staple of their repertoire. John always considered Berry 'one of the all-time great poets, a rock poet .... I've loved everything he's done, ever.'“ – “The Beatles: The Biography,” by Bob Spitz.
“The villain of the evening was the influence of rock 'n' roll. ... Another singer, Chuck Berry, reduced the (Newport Jazz) festival to a tawdry low point with a group of outright rock 'n' roll selections. There was no more reason to have Mr. Berry at a jazz festival than there would, to go to the opposite extreme, to have Mantovani.” – New York Times, July 1958. (Berry's appearance was immortalized in the acclaimed documentary “Jazz on a Summer's Day.”)
“Of all the early breakthrough rock 'n' roll artists, none is more important to the development of the music than Chuck Berry. He is its greatest songwriter, the main shaper of its instrumental voice, one of its greatest guitarists, and one of its greatest performers. Quite simply, without him, there would be no Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, nor a myriad others.” – Cub Koda, “All Music Guide to Rock.”
To this day, the cream of Berry's repertoire – which includes 'Johnny B. Goode,' 'Sweet Little Sixteen,' 'Rock and Roll Music' and 'Roll Over Beethoven' – is required listening for any serious rock fan and required learning for any serious rock musician.” – Citation from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1986.
“Adapting Louis Jordan's jump blues for electrified instruments, Berry created the definitive architecture for the rock and roll band, and shifted the spotlight to the guitar. Most significant was Berry's writing, which placed country-style storytelling in a youth-oriented context that perfectly captured the lives, thoughts and dreams of baby boomer teens.” – Time magazine; the All-TIME 100 Albums.
“All the Chuck Berry songs you ever heard always had things like 'Birmingham, Alabama!' shouted out, these American places like 'Tallahassee!' But you couldn't put the English ones in. It always sounded daft to us. 'Scunthorpe!' 'Warrington!' It doesn't sound as funky.” – Paul McCartney in “Rock Lives: Profiles and Interviews,” by Timothy White.