Chuck Berry: 20 Essential Songs

"Johnny B. Goode," "Roll Over Beethoven" and other masterpieces that laid the groundwork for rock & roll as we know it

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"Little Queenie" (1959)

With a guitar intro that echoes "Johnny B. Goode" and another "go! go!" chorus, "Little Queenie" – released a year after "Johnny" – shows how deftly Berry could make a variation on the theme, since he sings the second verse ("Meanwhile, I was thinkin'/If she's in the mood no need to break it") with a brand-new swagger. In his autobiography, he wrote that the song was a fair depiction of how he was as a teenager. "That was typical of me in high school, to stand around thinking instead of acting during occasions when I'd have the opportunity to get next to a girl by dancing," he wrote. "It's just like me even today to wait around 'til it's too late to latch on to the chance to meet a person I favor." It went on to become one of Berry's most covered songs – by everyone from the Beatles and Stones to Bruce Springsteen and the Velvet Underground – even though it peaked at 80 on the charts.

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