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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"Rock and Roll Music" (1957)

Berry's 1957 tribute to the music he loved most, with its swinging piano and forceful guitar, still stands as one of the most passionate declarations of the power of rock. He made playful jabs at jazz, mambo and tango, styles that were popular at the time, and clearly outlined what rock was, from its backbeat to its wailing saxes. "I was heavy into rock & roll even then and had to create something that hit the spot without question," he wrote in his autobiography. "I wanted the lyrics to define every aspect of its being and worded it to do so." It was such a potent summary, the song was covered by the Beatles in 1964 and the Beach Boys in 1976.

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