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Chuck Berry Final Research Paper

Chuck Berry Final Research Paper - Cameron Leahy Professor...

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Cameron Leahy Leahy 1 Professor Lesman ENG 111 10 Dec. 2007 Roll Over Beethoven: Chuck Berry & His Revolutionary Sound In the early 1950’s, a restless post-war generation of teenagers came to be, and with them emerged a sound like nothing ever heard before. It was music’s equivalent of the Big Bang, the genesis of an art form that simultaneously changed entertainment and the way teenagers have viewed themselves and their world ever since. Swiftly labeled rock ‘n’ roll by an excited Cleveland, Ohio disc jockey, the new music was raw and primal, driven by a thumping backbeat irresistibly fresh and defiantly suggestive. It oozed sexuality and rebellion, and sang the praises of fast cars and even faster lives. No other musician better personified this movement than the legendary Chuck Berry, who became a seminal influence on artists as diverse as The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Beach Boys. Through his trademark double-string guitar and blunt, clever lyrics about the euphoria and angst of teenage life—cars, girls, sexual frustration, and boredom—Berry single-handedly laid down the framework for all pop music to follow, influencing generations of musicians to come. As John Lennon observed, “If you tried to give rock ‘n’ roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry.” Born on October 18 th , 1926 in St. Louis, Missouri, Chuck Berry was sent to a reform school named Algoa in 1944, after being convicted of armed robbery. He was released from Algoa in 1947 on his 21 st birthday. He began working on an assembly line at General Motors during his days, and studying hairdressing and cosmetology at night (Rolling Stone Encyclopedia 69-70). His father was a businessman who encouraged Berry to pursue an education, which Berry struggled to do through adulthood. It was in
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Leahy 2 1952 that Berry began performing with the Johnnie Johnson Trio, soon becoming one of the premiere performers in the St. Louis area. In 1955, he met the famed blues musician Muddy Waters, who suggested he contact Leonard Chess, founder of Chess Records. Fig 1: Chuck Berry in an early promotional shot. (1957) It was with Leonard Chess that Berry began his career. There, he recorded his first songs, “Ida Red” (renamed “Maybellene”), “Wee Wee Hours,” and “You Can’t Catch Me,” the last of which later caught the attention of John Lennon. In writing The Beatles’
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