Chuck Berry put the rock in the roll

In the House of Rock and Roll, there are three kings: Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard (Penniman). Before them all was the Queen, Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

On October 9, 1973, we lost Queen Sister Tharpe. On June 2, 2008, we lost King Diddley. And last week, on March 18, we lost King Berry. King Richard, at 84 years of age, is still with us.

Know this; without Tharpe, Diddley, Penniman, and Berry, the world would have had to make do without Rock and Roll. It’s just that simple, and is not intended as any sort of slight directed against Elvis Presley or Jerry Lee Lewis, both of whom are justifiably remembered and recognized as musical giants and pioneers. But no matter how anyone might want to try and twist it around in these days of ‘alternative facts’, the simple truth is the simple truth.

Bo Diddley

When you talk about the House that Rock built, you’re talking about the Three Kings and the Queen.

There is lots to say about Berry’s technique, his style, his personality and his relevance. About how before him there was none other like him. It’s one thing to be good at something, but it’s something else entirely to create that something.

Little Richard

Chuck Berry was a creator, and what he helped to build will last longer than any physical structure designed by any man or woman in this paint-by-numbers, inch-deep and shrinking culture in which we are all trying to swim.

And man, that’s saying something.


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Writer and musician.

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