The equation is pretty simple. No Chuck Berry. No rock and roll. The effect he had on the two biggest British invaders is incalculable. This is a list I compiled on his birthday a few years ago. Let me share some of the greatest Chuck Berry covers in rock and roll history.
Johnny Winter-Johnny B. Goode. From Johnny Winter And Live. Notable for the introductory howl “ROCKANDROOLLLLLL!” And Johnny Winter at the peak of his formidable powers. Of the hundreds of versions, this is the one that gets my essential juices flowing.
The Rolling Stones-Little Queenie. From Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out. The Stones most important live album contains two Chuck Berry covers. Love the way this builds. This version gives me the wiggles in my knees.
The Beatles-Roll Over Beethoven. A song The Beatles chose to perform before they were a band.
ELO-Roll Over Beethoven. The full 8 minute version included the intro of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. When this would come on your favorite FM rock station you’d have to re-check the dial.
Santana-Havana Moon. Leave it to Carlos to take a lesser known track and take it to the bank.
Linda Ronstadt-Back in the U.S.A. The recent revelation that illness has destroyed Linda’s voice takes us back to the 1970’s when she ruled the world and we were all in love with her. Her fame commanded the best L.A. session players money and influence could buy.
John Cale-Memphis. So cool. So menacing.
Emmylou Harris-You Can Never Tell (C’est La Vie). You didn’t think I’d do a playlist without Emmylou, did you?
Dave Edmunds-Run Run Rudolph. This lesser known version of the Chuck Berry Christmas classic is superb.
The Beach Boys-Surfin’ U.S.A. Originally credited as a Beach Boys’ composition, Chuck Berry pointed out that is was really “Sweet Little Sixteen.”