Chuck Berry passed away March 18, 2017. He was 90 years old.
Art is a stream that flows from one generation to the next. It’s up to every artist to get their words, music, painting, film into that stream.
For T-Bone Walker, it was Call it Stormy Monday, (but Tuesday is Just as Bad).
Released in 1947, Stormy Monday is a classic blues tune which goes straight to the gut. Nestled among the song’s 7th and 9th chords is a solo which contains the essential elements of rock and roll guitar. Note bending, chromatic runs, double stops: it’s all there – measured, paced, prowling, ready.
Chuck Berry picked up this vibe in the 1950’s and helped launched rock and roll. Rolling over Beethoven while riding along in his automobile, Berry borrowed liberally from the stream that Walker, Robert Johnson, and many others had sent his way. Berry picked up the note bends and double stops, while adding speed and energy.
As the 50’s blended into the 60’s, Keith Richards and others added distortion and volume. Underneath it all though, the same stream still flowed.
Richards, Page, Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, R. L. Burnside, the slides and bends of John Mayer’s guitar on Gravity. Taking from the stream, putting something back in.
We all live in constant motion, learning and borrowing from those who came before us.
Rest in peace Chuck Berry. You put in more than you took out.