Johnny B. Goode – Chuck Berry

THIS DAY IN MUSIC……………………………………………….on March 31st of 1958 Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” is released. It would enter the Billboard charts six weeks later and rise to number 8 on the Hot 100 and number two on the R&B chart. The song’s original lyrics referred to Johnny as a “colored boy”, but Berry later acknowledged that he changed it to “country boy” to ensure radio play. Written by Berry the song is based on Berry’s life. It tells the tale of a boy with humble beginnings with a talent for guitar. Some details were changed: Berry was from St. Louis, not Louisiana, and he knew how to read and write very well. He graduated from beauty school with a degree in hairdressing and cosmetology. Berry got the name “Johnny” from Johnnie Johnson, a piano player who collaborated with Berry on many songs, including “Maybellene,” “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Sweet Little 16.” Johnson often wrote the songs on piano, and then Berry converted them to guitar and wrote lyrics. Berry joined Johnson’s group, The Sir John Trio, in 1953, and quickly became the lead singer and centerpiece of the band. Johnson was very well-respected among many musicians. He played with Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, John Lee Hooker and many others before his death at age 80 in 2005. Berry got the word “Goode” from the street in St. Louis where he grew up. He lived at 2520 Goode Avenue, which in 1986 was renamed Annie Malone Drive after the woman who financed a children’s home on the street. Berry lifted some guitar licks for this song: the intro came from the Louis Jordan song “Ain’t That Just Like A Woman,” and the guitar break came from a 1950 T-Bone Walker song called “Strollin’ With Bones.” Jordan was a very influential R&B singer and a huge influence on Berry; Walker was a famous guitarist in the ’40s and early ’50s who came up with an electric guitar sound and raucous stage act that Berry incorporated.