This Historic Day In Music: Chuck Berry

If you wouldn’t mind, read the next two lines out loud.

“Well, I’m a write a little letter, I’m go’n mail it to my local DJ.

Yes it’s a jumpin’ little record I want my jockey to play.”

Good! Now these two:

“I got the rockin’ pneumonia, I need a shot of rhythm and blues.

I caught the rollin’ arthritis sittin’ down at a rhythm review.”


Did you feel it? The flow, the groove, the perfect rhythm of those words as they rolled off your lips?

Those lines, as I’m sure you know by now, come from the song “Roll Over Beethoven” and were written by Chuck Berry.

“Roll Over Beethoven” was the A-side song of Chuck Berry’s fourth single for Chess Records. It was recorded on April 16, 1956 in the studios of the Universal Recording Corporation in Chicago, Illinois. It was released in May 1956 (b/w “Drifting Heart”).

“Roll Over Beethoven,” to me, shows Chuck Berry starting to really hit his stride as not just a lyricist, but also as a guitarist, band leader and recording artist.

Over the relentlessly joyous course of its 2:24 running time, “Roll Over Beethoven” takes off from its now-classic opening guitar solo, revels through three verses, a bridge, another breathless guitar solo, two more verses and brings it all home with five energizing chants of the title phrase and the final exclamation point of “Dig these Rhythm & Blues!!”

Simply put, it rocks!

Don’t just take my words for it. Listen for yourself.

That’s really something, isn’t it?

The musicians on that recording were:

  • Chuck Berry – Electric Guitar & Vocals
  • Johnnie Johnson – Piano
  • Willie Dixon – Bass
  • Fred Below – Drums

“Roll Over Beethoven” was released in December 1956 on “Rock, Rock, Rock!,” the first Long Playing (LP) disc produced by Chess Records.

Chuck Berry was born Charles Edward Anderson Berry in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 18, 1926. He passed away on March 18, 2017.

Where would popular music have gone without him?

P.S.: Back some time ago, I played rhythm guitar in a Beatles cover band called MerseysideWe played “Roll Over Beethoven” (of course) the way The Beatles did it. With our superb drummer, Les Harris, on lead vocals, it was a total blast to do and always one of the highlights of our show.

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