It's funny but just last week I was telling a friend it's surprising how many rock greats from its early days are still around. Sure, Buddy Holly died young, and so did Elvis, but Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Fats Domino are still around.
Heading that list, actually, was Chuck Berry, who just passed away at 90. He was the greatest of all the originators. He sang, played guitar, knew how to put on a show, and, above all, was rock and roll's greatest songwriter. He created the template that so many followed--it's hard to imagine the Beach Boys, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and so many others being what they were if Chuck hadn't come first. If I had to name a single person most important in inventing rock, it would be Berry.
I don't know what's the first song of his I listened to, but I do remember the first time I heard "Johnny B. Goode." I was at some sort of outdoor fair and the song was blasting over the PA. It stopped me in my tracks. I loved the rock, of course, but what really got to me were the lyrics. They flowed so well, and were so entertaining they almost made me laugh. Chuck Berry was really the best lyricist ever in rock--I don't think anyone since has topped him.
I've paid tribute to him many time before, and, with a heavy heart, it's time to do it one more time. Trouble is, you don't know where to start, and you don't know when to stop.