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Chuck Berry: 10 Country Music Covers

From Marty Robbins to Emmylou Harris, country artists have a long history of interpreting the rock pioneer’s songs

Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry's iconic rock & roll songs were frequently covered by country artists.

Gijsbert Hanekroot/Getty Images

Although Chuck Berry is regarded as an architect of rock & roll, there’s no denying that country music had a profound and lasting influence on his artistry. Berry, who died Saturday at 90 years old, was an innovative guitarist and extraordinarily gifted lyricist whose earliest influences ran the gamut from Western swing to Cajun music.

Berry created one of the most impressive bodies of work in the history of rock & roll, but could have done none of it without the swing, blues and hillbilly tunes he grew up listening to in St. Louis. One of Berry‘s most celebrated hits, “Maybellene,” originated as a tune called “Ida Red,” popularized in the late Thirties by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. In the 1978 book Honkers and Shouters: The Golden Age of Rhythm & Blues, by Arnold Shaw, blues artist Jimmy Witherspoon is quoted as saying, “Chuck Berry is a country singer. People put everybody in categories, black, white, this. Now, if Chuck Berry was white… he would be the top country star in the world.” That claim can certainly be backed up by the vast number of country acts who have paid homage to Berry by covering his songs, putting a country – and in some cases bluegrass – spin on some of his most highly regarded tunes. Here are 10 of the best, including one of Berry‘s own takes on a Hank Williams classic.

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“Let It Roll,” Mel McDaniel

“Let It Rock” (or, in this case, “Let It Roll”) is Berry’s churning and burning dream-while-you-toil tale that takes a wicked turn when an unexpected train poses a threat to several day-laborers on the railroad. But it’s pretty tough to care about that drama, when you’re focused on Berry’s relentless guitar, roaring with all the fury of that oncoming locomotive. For his 1985 single, country star Mel McDaniel and band got onboard the train and rode this cover all the way into the Top Ten.

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“Bordeaux in My Pirough,” Chuck Berry

In 1971, Berry recorded an album called San Francisco Dues, and included this peppy tune, “Bordeaux in My Pirough,” which is obviously heavily influenced by the Hank Williams’ hit “Jambalaya,” which he also cut. Even more so than “You Never Can Tell,” it is his most Cajun-injected tune, and along with “You Are My Sunshine” and “Here Today (and Gone Tomorrow),” which was recorded by the Louvin Brothers in 1958, confirms the rock icon’s love for pure country music.

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