With his dynamic blues-based guitar riffs and showmanship, Chuck Berry defined the sound of rock ‘n’ roll and inspired numerous rock bands to come. We take a look at some of our favourite renditions of his timeless hits. 

As John Lennon put it, "If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'”. In fact, it would be easier to list bands that haven’t done any Berry covers than ones that have. The Beatles alone covered at least 15 songs in their live shows. Here, we take a look at some of our favourite covered "Berries". 


Image via soulwalking.co.uk

 

1. Jimi Hendrix "Johnny B. Goode" 

"When these cats say, 'Look at the band—they're playing psychedelic music!' and all they're really doing is flashing lights on them and playing 'Johnny B. Goode' with the wrong chords—it's terrible.", said Hendrix. Nobody knows whom he was referring to (although it was very possibly a slam on Pink Floyd), but it's clear that Chuck Berry was a huge influence on the guitar god's music, who took it to the next, psychedelic level.  

 

2. Rod Stewart “Sweet Little Rock & Roller” 

There’s something about Rod Stewart’s swaggering showmanship that simply screams “Chuck”. Whether it’s the hip-shaking, mic-swinging, or the shiny pink jacket and trouser combo—we don’t know. But he sure nails the look and the sound of the 1950s’ rock ‘n’ roll.

 

3. The Doors “Carol”

Even the Lizard King himself couldn’t help but pay tribute to the great Chuck. In this very obscure mash-up of “Carol” and “Soul Kitchen”, Morrison sings this rock ’n’ roll standard in his signature moody, baritone hollering.   

 

4. The Animals “Around and Around"

The boys rock the house with “Around and Around” in this 1964 MGM beach party comedy, Get Yourself a College Girl. It's a slightly more subdued version in the likes of The Beatles, with more side-to-side bobbing than duckwalking, but the stunning colour and definition of the video really bring this performance to life. Vocalist Eric Burdon would also include this cover in many of his live sets.

 

5. The Rolling Stones “Let It Rock”

Few bands have recorded as many Chuck Berry covers as The Rolling Stones—in fact, their very first single was a take on Berry’s “Come On.” This performance recorded in Texas during their US Tour 1978 in support of their album Some Girls is a true gem: Mick dancing convulsively and forgetting the lyrics and Keith smoking cigarettes and giving all he's got to those high-powered Berry guitar solos. 

 

6. Bruce Springsteen “You Can Never Tell”

The Boss will never forget the time when he was backing up Berry in the 1970s. The already-established Berry gave the young musician quite a scare when he wouldn't let him know which songs they would play. Thankfully, Springsteen holds no hard feelings and still frequently plays Berry covers at his live shows.

 

7. Elton John "Johnny B. Goode"

We saved the best for last. Who knew Elton John was made for rocking Chuck Berry songs? With his policeman hat and silver sequin tie, he gives “Johnny B. Goode” a slight camp twist in this video, but his crisp, ferocious hard-rock vocals lend the song an exciting edge and turn the "country boy named Johnny" into a real tough guy. 

 

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Feature image via rockhall.com

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