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Chuck Berry

Chassaing / Dalle / Retna

There would be no rock & roll guitar without Chuck Berry. His
signature lick — a staccato, double-string screech descended
from Chicago blues with a strong country inflection — is the
music's defining twang. He introduced it in his 1955 Chess Records
debut, "Maybellene," and used it to dynamic effect in nearly two
dozen classic hits in the next ten years, including the best songs
about playing rock & roll: "Roll Over Beethoven," "Rock and
Roll Music" and "Johnny B. Goode." Born in San Jose, California, in
1926, Berry learned to play guitar as a teenager but did time in
reform school for attempted robbery and moonlighted as a beautician
in St. Louis before "Maybellene" made him a star. Berry's career
was sidelined by a two-year jail stint in the early 1960s; his only
Number One single was the mildly pornographic singalong "My
Ding-a-Ling" in 1972. But Berry was the first giant of rock & roll guitar. Nothing else matters.