When it comes to rock'n'roll, one man immediately comes to mind: Chuck Berry. A virtuoso guitarist with a fiery, over-the-top style, a composer of genius hits and an exuberant, one-of-a-kind stage persona, Chuck Berry is the most perfect embodiment of rock 'n' roll. The introductions of his songs have become legendary and to see him arming himself with his guitar is a fully assumed pleasure sending us back to the best riffs of rock. Who has never given in to the intro of Johnny B. Goode, which has become an intoxicating anthem?
This exceptional Gibson Firebird is a guitar that was played live by the absolute master of the riff. If you dream of touching a guitar that has been played by Chuck Berry, dream no more: it's all happening at Matt's Guitar Shop!
Chuck Berry is a rock'n'roll pioneer who helped build the genre to the top with his cult songs and catchy riffs. Each of his performances was the occasion of a breathtaking show made of the best guitar acrobatics. As an unparalleled performer, Berry has graced stages around the world for decades and inspired generations of musicians. Chuck Berry is a brilliant composer and an inventive guitarist who helped make the Gibson ES-335 a household name. But his forays into other guitars were enough to confirm his extraordinary talent. This deep black Gibson Firebird is proof of that. It was played on stage at Wembley in 1972. Chuck Berry proves then that he is divinely inspired no matter what the instrument during his breathtaking gymnastic and rock'n'roll act. All he has to do is grab that guitar to continue his show and delight the fans. There is only a musician like Chuck Berry, able to inhabit the space with brilliance and ensure his chords and solos!
This 1964 Gibson Firebird started its history in the hands of the guitarist Terry Gibson, a renowned guitarist who played with Gene Vincent, Bo Diddly and especially Chuck Berry. Then in sunburst finish, the Firebird is documented on many photos taken on stage at the time. The guitar was then refinished in the fabulous black in which we discover it today. It was in this dress that it made its most notable appearance, at the London Rock and Roll Show at Wembley Stadium in 1972, where headliner Chuck Berry was handed the guitar to close out his Dantean performance. This concert was captured by the cameras, where we can see the guitarist of genius unleashing guitar in hand and abandoning himself to his best acrobatics. In fact, it was a still image from this concert that was used for the cover of a double CD released in 2017, including three albums and bonus tracks. A rare gem to discover at Matt's Guitar Shop!
(1926 - 2017)
Main guitar: Gibson ES-355
Compulsory listening: Johnny B. Goode
“If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'.” said John Lennon to make it clear how influential the genius musician from St Louis, Missouri was. Elvis won the jackpot with his charisma and velvety voice, but Chuck wrote most of the rock classics that gave us some of the greatest guitar moments in history. His electric, aggressive, fast and bluesy style was the Holy Bible to people like Keith Richards, Angus Young and Bob Dylan.
Berry himself got a lot of his inspiration from piano player Johnnie Johnson with whom he played a lot, and he added a strong sense of showmanship to Johnson’s licks. With his duck walk, acrobatic splits and sheer animal magnetism, seeing Berry play is a visual and musical treat. As soon as 1953, he understood the potential of mixing up black music (the blues) and white music (country). He developed his style around this hybrid form, starting with his first single in 1955, Maybellene. That song was adapted from the country classic Ira Red, and he released it with Chess, the famous label that pioneered Chicago Blues.
Chuck then had a string of hits, writing classics that entered the rock canon: “Roll Over Beethoven”, “Too Much Monkey Business”, “Rock And Roll Music”, “Sweet Little Sixteen”, “Carol” and of course the classic amongst classics: “Johnny B. Goode” and its historic intro. But the genius guitarist had questionable morals and was sentenced to a year and a half in jail for having relations with a minor that worked in his club.
When he was released in 1963, Berry started to reap the benefits from his huge influence on bands from the new generation. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys covered many of his songs, and Berry himself kept on recording great ones. But step by step the well dried up and his last big single, the only number one in his career, was not much more than a salacious joke recorded live, “My Ding-A-Ling”. After that, Chuck stopped writing songs and concentrated on live performances, relentlessly touring the world and playing his hits of the fifties and sixties.
Eventually, his posthumous album - Chuck - was released in 2017. After a 38-year creative desert, this album is a nice testament to the monument that Berry was.