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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Monday, March 20, 2017


It is impossible to overstate the impact of Chuck Berry. Chuck Berry didn't invent rock 'n' roll; that music and its tangled roots were already in place before he started playing his guitar like a-ringin' a bell. But Chuck Berry defined rock 'n' roll. He gave it shape and substance, depth and meaning, a resonance that transcended its roadhouse and jukebox genesis as simple party music, while still remaining simple party music. Chuck Berry invented rock's swagger, its bounce, its groove, its very identity. He crafted the words that had 'em rocking in Boston, and Pittsburgh, PA, deep in the heart of Texas, and around Frisco Bay. Sure, Chuck Berry didn't invent rock 'n' roll; he merely transformed it into the music that we now all know and love.

In the story of rock 'n' roll, there is no one--no group or individual--more integral than Chuck Berry. No one. Not The Beatles and not The Rolling Stones, neither of whom would have even existed if not for Chuck Berry. Not Ray Charles, not Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers, Bob Dylan, Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, The Kinks, The Ramones, Smokey Robinson, The Isley Brothers, Otis, JanisBowie, Prince, The Who, The Sex Pistols, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley, The Beach Boys, and not anyone else you wanna try to slip into the conversation, either. Not even Elvis Presley, who would likely have the strongest claim otherwise. These are giants. These are the seemingly peerless stars who forged this music we love. Giants.

Giants? Absolutely. Yet Chuck Berry stood above them all.

Chuck Berry's influence rose above pop music, crossed racial and social and economic divides, and reached across generations. I discovered it second hand, via The Beatles' cover of "Rock And Roll Music" on Beatles '65. When either WOLF-AM or WNDR-AM (or both) started playing "Johnny B. Goode" regularly in the early '70s, I don't think I even realized it was an oldie, and I wouldn't have cared either way. I loved it, and I wanted to hear it all the time. I still do. "Sweet Little Sixteen." "School Day." "Memphis, Tennessee." "Let It Rock." "Promised Land." So many others, so many songs that I will never tire of hearing again and again.

John Lennon said, "If you had to give rock 'n' roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry." Writer and rocker Mick Farren warned us that we should never trust a rock band that didn't know any Chuck Berry songs. Ben Vaughn notes that "Our Shakespeare has left us." Roll over, Beethoven; there was only one Chuck Berry: motorvatin' over the hill, campaign shoutin' like a Southern diplomat, roundin' third and headin' for home, a brown-eyed handsome man. Bye bye, Johnny, goodbye Johnny B. Goode.

So swing low, chariot. Come down easy. Taxi to the terminal zone. As we mourn the passing of a legend, we play this music we've always played, this music we will always play. Just let me hear some more of that rock 'n' roll music. Chuck Berry has made it to the promised land.

NEXT WEEK: Bruce Gordon returns for Let's Be The Beatles! This is what rock 'n' roll radio--Chuck Berry radio--sounded like on a Sunday night in Syracuse this week.

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl streams live on Sunday night from 9 to Midnight Eastern, exclusively at www.westcottradio.org

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TIRnRR # 865: CHUCK BERRY! 3/19/17

THE RAMONES: Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio? (Rhino, End Of The Century)
CHUCK BERRY: Promised Land (MCA, The Anthology)
WYNONIE HARRIS: Good Rocking Tonight (Hoy Hoy, VA: Rock Before Elvis)
THE ROLLING STONES: Come On (Abkco, Singles Collection The London Years)
WILBERT HARRISON: Little School Girl (Jasmine, Gonna Tell You A Story)
CHUCK BERRY: All Aboard (Chess, Blues)
CHUCK BERRY: My Tambourine (Mercury, From St. Louie To Frisco)
THE BEATLES: Rock And Roll Music (Capitol, Beatles '65)
DR. FEELGOOD: She Does It Right (Parlophone, Down By The Jetty)
CHUCK BERRY: Brown Eyed Handsome Man (MCA, The Anthology)
JOHN LENNON: You Can't Catch Me (Apple, Rock 'n' Roll)
CHUCK BERRY: Ain't That Just Like A Woman (Chess, Fresh Berry's)
THE BEATLES: Come Together (Apple, Abbey Road)
CHUCK BERRY: Wuden't Me (Atco, Rock It)
THE WHO: The Good's Gone (MCA, My Generation)
CHUCK BERRY: Don't You Lie To Me (MCA, The Anthology)
THE BEATLES: I'm Talking About You (Apple, On Air--Live At The BBC Volume 2)
N/A: Applebee's commercial
THE HOLLIES: Too Much Monkey Business [live on Shindig!]
THE BEATLES: I Feel Fine (Capitol, Beatles '65)
BOB SEGER: Get Out Of Denver (Palladium, Seven)
CHUCK BERRY: Johnny B. Goode (MCA, The Anthology)
CHUCK BERRY: Bye Bye Johnny (MCA, The Anthology)
CHUCK BERRY: Childhood Sweetheart (Chess, Missing Berries)
THE KINKS: Beautiful Delilah [alternate mono mix] (Sanctuary, The Anthology 1964-1971)
THE CREATION: Biff, Bang, Pow (Numero Group, Action Painting)
THE FLASHCUBES: Boogie City (Northside, single)
CHUCK BERRY: Big Ben Blues (Chess, Missing Berries)
DAVE EDMUNDS: Dear Dad (Columbia, D.E. 7th)
THE PRETENDERS: Talk Of The Town (Sire, The Singles)
CHUCK BERRY: Downbound Train (MCA, The Anthology)
CREAM: Traintime (Polydor, BBC Sessions)
CHUCK BERRY: School Day (MCA, The Anthology)
CHUCK BERRY: Little Girl From Central (Chess, Missing Berries)
THE BEACH BOYS: Surfin' USA (Capitol, Surfin' Safari & Surfin' USA)
ARTHUR "BIG BOY" CRUDUP: That's All Right (MOJO, VA: The Roots Of Paul McCartney)
THE BEATLES: Back In The U.S.S.R. (Apple, The Beatles)
CHUCK BERRY: Back In The U.S.A. (MCA, The Anthology)
CHUCK BERRY: Carol (MCA, The Anthology)
CHUCK BERRY: Reelin' & Rockin' (MCA, The Anthology)
THE FLAMIN' GROOVIES: In The U.S.A. (Rhino, At Full Speed)
THE HOLLIES: Bus Stop (EMI, Hicks, Clarke & Nash Years)
CHUCK BERRY: Nadine (Is It You?) (MCA, The Anthology)
LITTLE RICHARD: Good Golly Miss Molly (MOJO, VA: The Roots Of Paul McCartney)
GEORGE THOROGOOD & THE DESTROYERS: It Wasn't Me (Rounder, single)
CHUCK BERRY: Louie To Frisco (Mercury, From Louie To Frisco)
CHUCK BERRY: Move It (Atco, Rock It)
CHUCK BERRY: Rock Cradle Rock (Mercury, From Louie To Frisco)
CHUCK BERRY: Sweet Little Rock & Roller (MCA, The Anthology)
CHUCK BERRY: I Love Her I Love Her (Mercury, From Louie To Frisco)
CHUCK BERRY: Memphis, Tennessee (MCA, The Anthology)
CHUCK BERRY: Back To Memphis (Mercury, Chuck Berry In Memphis)
CHUCK BERRY: Bio (MCA, The Anthology)
CHUCK BERRY: Little Queenie (MCA, The Anthology)
CHUCK BERRY: Let It Rock (MCA, The Anthology)
CHUCK BERRY: Blues (Chess, Missing Berries)
CHUCK BERRY: Maybelline (MCA, The Anthology)
CHUCK BERRY: Go Bobby Soxer (MCA, St. Louis To Liverpool)
CHUCK BERRY: You Never Can Tell (MCA, The Anthology)
CHUCK BERRY: Oh Baby Doll (Mercury, Chuck Berry In Memphis)
CHUCK BERRY: Around And Around (MCA, The Anthology)
CHUCK BERRY: Brenda Lee (MCA, St. Louis To Liverpool)
CHUCK BERRY: Sweet Little Sixteen (MCA, The Anthology)
CHUCK BERRY: Roll Over Beethoven (MCA, The Anthology)
CHUCK BERRY: Liverpool Drive (MCA, St. Louis To Liverpool)