Coming from someone who obviously knows something about rock
music, Richard’s words only echoes the greatness of guitar
legend Chuck Berry.
Born Charles Edward Anderson Berry on Oct. 18, 1926 in St.
Louis, Missouri, it didn’t take Berry long to find his
calling in life. With musical influences from such performers
such as Nat “King” Cole and legendary blues player
Muddy Waters, Berry entered a student musical show in his early
high school years. He sang a blues tune accompanied by a childhood
friend on guitar, and while blues wasn’t thought to be
acceptable for such an event at the time, he received a standing
ovation. From then on, Berry knew he wanted to be on stage
for a living, and he wanted the whole world to see.
Berry soon took up the guitar himself, and he played with several
club bands over the next few years. He eventually landed a
spot in a band that was getting gigs at the famous Cosmopolitan
Club in St. Louis, where the audiences began to grow. Berry
was getting recognition for his showmanship on stage and for
his ability to cater to the audience’s reactions. He
soon took that ability to the next level.
Country music was huge at the time, especially with the white
population, so Berry decided to take some country riffs on
the guitar and infuse them with the rhythm and blues sound
he’d been playing for some time. The result was an interesting,
unique sound that would change the course of music forever.
The black audience did not know what to think of it, but could
not deny its danceable rhythms. The country sound, mixed with
Berry’s stage presence, attracted white audiences from
all around, and the unthinkable was done. At a time when racial
tension was at a boiling point in America, Berry effectively
integrated music fans by bringing black and white people together
in the name of this new sound, which soon came to be called
rock n’ roll.
Berry gained his first official record deal with Chess records
in the 1950s and went on to record timeless classics such as “Maybellene,” “Too
Much Monkey Business,” and his most widely known single “Johnny
B. Goode,” to name a few.
Berry’s uncanny knowledge of the workings of the pop
music industry separated him from other artists as did the
fact that his sound attracted a whole new breed of music fans.
At the height of his career, many times, Berry found himself
to be one of the only black faces in a packed crowd of white
middle-class teenagers at his shows.
Berry was eternally placed with the greats of music in 1986
when he was elected into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
To this day, at the age of 77, Berry still performs with the
same raw talent and feverish guitar playing that garnered the
title given to him by many rock greats over the years, “the
father of rock n’ roll.”
Jerry Lee Lewis
Other people—they practice and they practice…these
fingers of mine, they got brains in ‘em. You don’t
tell them what to do—they do it. God-given talent,” Jerry
Lee Lewis said of himself according to a quote on a fan-dedicated
Lewis made a name for himself as a cocky, hot-headed piano
player in the1950s. Why did people take this self-indulgent
attitude with a smile? Well, simply put, he backed it up.
After beginning on the piano at age eight, it wasn’t
long before Lewis shot out of Louisiana like a “great
ball of fire” catching the ears and eyes of audiences
everywhere. When he was 21, his family sold enough eggs from
their farm to finance a trip to Memphis, Tenn. so Lewis could
perform for record label executives. His style fascinated the
right people, and he was soon officially recording singles
for radio play. In his early 20s, Lewis recorded one of his
biggest hits, “A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” In
1957, he performed on national television, and within a few
months, the song was number one on the Pop, Country Western,
and R&B charts, shooting him into the superstardom of mainstream
Also known for such hits as “Great Balls Of Fire” and “Breathless,” Lewis’ fiery
piano playing is still raved about today and has secured him
a place in the realm of rock legends. A recent concert review
on Lewis’ official Web site read, “Jerry Lee Lewis
can still rock the house…I could not get over how this
man can still get people of all ages rocking in their seats.”
The song title, “Tutti Fruiti, Aw—Rooti,” does
much by itself to give insight into the flamboyant personality
that is Little Richard. Born in Macon, Ga. as Richard Wayne
Penniman, Little Richard was initially noticed in the music
world for his blues playing on the piano.
In 1955, while working as a dishwasher, Little Richard cut
a demo tape. Unimpressed, record producers did not contact
him for almost six months. Even after he started recording
songs for a label in New Orleans, he had little success until
a fateful night in late 1955. At an empty night club Little
Richard was messing around an old piano, singing loudly and
playing furiously fast. A producer heard him and was inspired
to record that sound; Little Richard’s flashy style was
born, and the rest is history.
Little Richard became popular as stories of his outlandish
stage performances spread around. A close call in an airplane
shook him enough to bring about a vocation to become a Seventh
Day Adventist preacher in 1957, and he left rock music at the
peak of his career. He returned in 1962 to the open arms of
the music industry, bringing with him a young guitarist named
Jimi Hendrix. He recorded a few more big hits in the early
1960s, began touring again, and hasn’t looked back .
On a side note, Little Richard announced he will retire after
this year. Sure, he’s said this before, but take this
chance to see him live as Honolulu could very well be one of
his last performances.
These three men are regarded by the music industry as perhaps
the three most influential musicians to ever stand on a stage.
They rarely played together during their careers, and this
may be the last time they ever do play together; so take this
once in a lifetime opportunity, and watch history in the making.