an article following the announcement in August of the honorees, a
"With the selection of Berry, 73, the center is at last
firmly acknowledging the artistry of rock-and-roll and its enormous
impact since the 1950s."
event was held in the Kennedy Center's grand Opera House on December 3,
2000. Walter Kronkite
the names of the honorees to the distinguished guests and, in
doing so, said Berry was "quite simply one of the 20th century's most
influential musicians." Kronkite thanked him for "making us laugh,
making us dance and making us
Sam Waterston, said, "He gave us
hero, with the other honorees of 2000, (clockwise
upper left) Placido
Domingo, Angela Lansbury,
hungry teens a language of our
own and the music to fire a revolution."
Hawn introduced Berry. She
said she had grown up listening to classical music and promised her
father that it would always be her favorite music
she would never like rock 'n' roll. Then, she said, she turned 13
things started happening to her. Hawn
said that Berry had “reached
out to a generation” and, together with Elvis Presley, inspired her to pursue her dream. She called him the "poet laureate of rock 'n' roll"
Hawn got a broad
smile and a thumbs up from the ever cool
Mr. Berry when she told him that no one ever said it better
did when he sang, "Roll over, Beethoven, and tell Tchaikovsky
Berry "could play a guitar just like a-ringin' a
everyone knows he is generally regarded as both the greatest guitarist and the
greatest lyricist of rock 'n' roll's pioneer generation and was the first
in a long line of rock 'n' roll singer-songwriters and one of the best
of all times. Quite
appropriately among the
very first round of inductees in 1986 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, his influence on others that
followed is widely acknowledged and undeniable.
to newspaper reports, published on December 4th,
2000, the day after the
actual Kennedy Center event:
74, was cited for his role in helping to create the hard-charging rock
'n' roll sound that has dominated popular music for five decades."
the Los Angeles Times
"But perhaps the most
far-reaching toast of the evening [which was unfortunately edited out of
the television broadcast] came from composer Marvin Hamlisch, who
toasted Berry as the 'one figure who, as much as anyone, can lay claim to
the invention of rock-and-roll.
As a boy
in New York,' he said, 'I was taught the music of the three B's
— Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. But as a
teenager, I lived with the fourth B
— Chuck Berry.' Noting
Berry's early fusion of country and western guitar riffs with jazz and
rhythm and blues, Hamlisch said, as an American, 'I'm as proud of
Chuck Berry as I am of George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein.'
the end of the Berry tribute, Little Richard and an all-star ensemble
paid musical homage to Chuck Berry … [and] brought the whole hall to
their feet, including the president [Clinton]."
the audience filed out, you could almost hear the mental loop playing
in everyone's heads:
"Roll over, Beethoven, and tell
Tchaikovsky the news."
1957, you said, "Maybe someday, your name will be in
lights." But did you ever dream of anything like
* * * * * *
John Lennon once said, "If
you would try to give rock 'n' roll another name, you might call it Chuck
Berry." So began a movie documentary tribute to Chuck Berry in
celebration of his 60th birthday
entitled Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll
that was released in 1987. It featured a number of brief interviews of other
rock 'n' roll giants in which they commented about their admiration for
Chuck. A couple of notable examples follow:
"My favorite song
from Chuck ─
is all of 'em .
... He's my favorite rock artist, and he always have [sic]
"He's the king
rock 'n' roll. ...Chuck Berry is the
greatest. He's the Hank Williams of rock 'n' roll."
Jerry Lee Lewis
According to the internet music streaming service, Pandora
Radio, (no author credit given):
all the early breakthrough rock & roll artists, none is more
important to the development of the music than Chuck Berry. He
is its greatest songwriter, the main shaper of its instrumental
voice, one of its greatest guitarists, and one of its greatest
performers. Quite simply, without him there would be no Beatles, Rolling
nor a myriad others. There would be no standard "Chuck Berry
guitar intro," the instrument's clarion call to get the joint
rockin' in any setting. The clippety-clop rhythms of rockabilly
would not have been mainstreamed into the now standard 4/4 rock
& roll beat. There would be no obsessive wordplay by modern-day
tunesmiths; in fact, the whole history (and artistic level) of
rock & roll songwriting would have been much poorer without him.
he wrote "all of the great songs and came up with all the rock &
roll beats." Those who do not claim him as a seminal influence
or profess a liking for his music and showmanship show their
ignorance of rock's development as well as his place as the
music's first great creator. Elvis may
have fueled rock & roll's imagery, but Chuck Berry was its
heartbeat and original mindset. "
The Class of
1960 offers its sincere thanks to you, Chuck Berry. We are deeply grateful to
you for helping to make
our teenage years so very special
for entertaining us and keeping us rocking
and keeping us young
October 18, 2016, Chuck Berry turned
years of age!!
He brought us all so much joy, and now he is gone. But he left so much for
us to treasure and remember him by.
Chuck, you were the man
grand old man of
rock 'n' roll!!
Johnny B. Goode!