Friday, April 15, 2005

Like Ringin' A Bell

It's somewhat ironic that Chuck Berry, the man who made guitar THE instrument of rock and roll, would have one of the greatest rock pianists playing behind him.

Johnnie Johnson, who played keyboards on just about every great Berry track, has died at age 80. "Maybellene," "Roll Over Beethoven," "School Days"--he's there. In fact, "Johnny B. Goode" is a tribute to him.

Johnnie had a lively, rollicking style, full of glissandos and staccato notes on the high keys. Nevertheless, he wasn't a show-off, and always played to make the band sound good.

(His last reported words were "I feel good." Either he was feeling okay, or hallucinating that he played in a different band.)

So pull out that Chuck Berry album and play "Sweet Little Sixteen." Listen for Johnnie. If you're not already familiar with him, you might be amazed.

5 Comments:

Blogger Skip James said...

Johnnie Johnson makes me glad. Those tinkling piano keys. The steady rhythm. He helped make the R and R sound. His piano and Carol King's rolling introductions to several girl group songs (eg Loco-Motion), drew my attention. They focused my ears to listen to the different instruments in rock.

10:46 PM, April 14, 2005  
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