Letter to the Editor

Hail! Hail! and farewell, Chuck

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Over the years we have lost many rock 'n' roll stars far too early in their careers, but Chuck Berry lived a full life to 90 years of age. His recent passing saddens anyone appreciating the rock 'n' roll music era, but it particularly hits hard on anyone who ever played in a rock 'n' roll band. Outside of Lennon and McCartney, Chuck Berry was probably the most prolific song-writer of pop music; in fact he inspired their early song-writing endeavors!

I sincerely believe that even though he performed right up until his death, made lots of money and was an initial inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he never received the overwhelming popularity he and his music deserved, most likely due to the color of his skin. However, any start-up garage band or musician eagerly learned his songs and guitar licks because his songs had simple, meaningful lyrics arranged with danceable rhythms that blended Southern blues with riveting guitar lead-ins creating the new rock 'n' roll sound. He truly was a founder of rock 'n' roll music!

I went back and looked at the song lists of my two bands of the '60s, The Torkays and Dentairs and found they included "Johnny B. Goode," "Maybellene," "Memphis," "Roll Over Beethoven," "Round & Round," "Reelin’ & Rockin'," "Rock & Roll Music," "Nadine" and my favorite, "Sweet Little Sixteen." How we missed "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" and "Back In The USA," I don’t know! But needless to say no other single writer provided us that many songs to draw from until the Beatles and I am positive any other band of that era or today would confirm the same experience. In fact, I believe "Johnny B. Goode" has been the most "played" song of all time because it still remains in the repertoire of most bands yet today, plus anytime there is a rock jam, it is always a main selection!

So with regret, we say farewell to another rock legend but thank Chuck Berry for his music legacy that will live on because:

They’ll be rockin’ on bandstands

In Philadelphia, PA

Deep in the heart of Texas

Around the Frisco Bay

Way out in St. Louie

Deep down in New Orleans

All the cats want to dance with

Sweet little sixteen

Rock on in heaven Chuck and maybe share a laugh with Beethoven!

Terry B. Yarns

Spirit Lake