Over the weekend, musicians and fans alike said goodbye the one and only Chuck Berry. While Chuck lived a long and eventful ninety years, the loss of yet another memorable musician always symbolizes an end of significance. The passing of greats like David Bowie and Glenn Frey over the last 18 months, symbolizes the end of their artistry, but Chuck's passing feels more like the end of a true and innovative pioneer in the beginnings of rock and roll music. I dare say that Chuck was the one that brought a sound, rhythm, and soul to the masses in a way no one had before him that became a foundation we still hear and feel to this day. I dare you to put on a Chuck Berry album and find a bad song. Go on, try it....it's not possible (ok, well My Ding-a-Ling is an exception).
My first inclination was to try and come up with an article that would pay homage by describing how to get that Chuck Berry sound with the magic of pedals, but that proved to be a futile effort. Not because it's not possible, but because pedals aren't going to get the job done. Chuck's sound was one of pure simplicity from his guitar to the amp. And really when we get down to it, the rest of the Chuck Berry sound came from his hands and more importantly his attitude. It doesn't matter whether he was on stage or in the studio, the man sold every note he played when he was in his prime. Sometimes it was an easy sale like Johnny B. Goode, and other times it was a little more forced like those moments depicted in the documentary Hail Hail Rock and Roll. Whatever the setting, Chuck was always real, genuine, and pure.
If it's been a while since you've listened to his music, do yourself a favor. Sit down or go for a drive and throw on your favorite Chuck Berry song. You'll be glad you did. And if you happen to be one of those rare individuals that doesn't know his music, now's a good a time as any to invite him into your life and let him influence what's yet to come from your music.