Look back at any rock giant’s account of their formative encounters with Chuck Berry‘s music and you’ll discover a common thread: Every one reads like the story of a true, near-religious epiphany. For Paul McCartney and his fellow Beatles, the late Berry’s songs “hit us like a bolt of lightning.” Surveying Berry’s genius for Rolling Stone‘s 100 Greatest Artists list, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry said, “That feeling of excitement in the pit of my stomach, in the hair on the back of my neck: I got more of it from Chuck Berry than from anybody else.”
Elvis Presley will forever be known as the king of rock & roll in name, but few would dispute Chuck Berry’s status as the genre’s true godfather – the one most directly responsible for its endlessly adaptable blueprint. “Chuck had the swing,” Keith Richards told RS. “There’s rock, but it’s the roll that counts.” Here, in the wake of Berry’s passing, we survey a selection of the songs that helped make him immortal.