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If You Don't Know Chuck Berry, You Don't Know Rock and Roll

Only my students over 40 seem to have heard of Chuck Berry, and that means most of my students don't know squat about where modern rock comes from. Here, however, is what the experts say. According to Keith Richards, the legendary rhythm guitarist of the Rolling Stones, "Chuck Berry practically invented the electric guitar as the ultimate rock and roll instrument." Another expert, Cub Koda -- the famous historian of the rock era -- put it this way. "With hits like Maybelene, Roll Over Beethoven, and Johnny B. Goode and with his invention of the wild-man style of guitar playing, Chuck Berry has a good claim to being the Father of Rock and Roll. Chuck was clearly one of rock and roll's best songwriters, one of its greatest guitarists, and one of its greatest performers." (By the way, Chuck is 81 years old as this paragraph is being written, and he still performs two or three gigs per week.) The highest praise of all, however, comes from John Lennon of the Beatles. "If you tried to give rock and roll a new name," Lennon said, "you would have to call it Chuck Berry." In other words, kids, if you don't know Chuck Berry, you just plain don't know anything about where modern music came from.