REELIN’ AND ROCKIN’

On October 22, the Rock Hall of Fame will begin a week long tribute to Charles “Chuck” Berry. The 82 year old rocker intends to take the stage at his own concert tribute. There are many who say Elvis was the “king” of rock (Springsteen merely “the boss”) but as far as I’m concerned, there is only one king and that’s Berry. Along with Bo Diddley, Berry influenced guitar playing rockers for decades to come, including Keith Richards who later put together one of the best rock movies which chronicled the life and music of Berry (Hail, Hail Rock N Roll). Berry was a rebel who had scrapes with the law, multiple marriages and other unsavory aspects to his life but he also unknowingly paved the way for racial tolerance during the dawn of rock in the late fifties when white kids like myself plunked down some coin to buy and listen to his hits recorded on 45 records. It didn’t matter what color he was, the man made you want to get up and dance and take up an instrument to emulate either he or his band. That’s when I first learned to dance which later held me in good stead at the high school mixers and sock hops we had back in those days. And if you wanted a chance with the ladies (well, girls), you’d better be able to dance the UT, the Stroll, the Hop and of course, the Twist. By being a “bad boy” and Black, Berry tapped into the rebellious side of our youth. The only problem was my mom loved the guy’s music too and my mom knew music. Even today, when I want to get “down and dirty,” I pull out my Berry greatest hits CD and shuck and jive as I remember the good old days. Berry may “never have learned to read or write so well but he could play a guitar like ringin a bell.”

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