UPDATE: I put this up last night when I saw the news that Chuck Berry had passed away, age 90. He was a huge figure in the development of popular music after WWII. Jim Fusilli has a good obituary in the Wall Street Journal.
Singer, composer, guitarist and showman Chuck Berry, who died March 18 at age 90, bridged the gaps between blues, country and R&B to become one of the founding fathers of rock ’n’ roll. A dominant talent in the late ’50s and early ’60s, Mr. Berry, unlike many of his contemporaries, never seemed relegated to the distant past. With their wit and vitality—and in no small part due to his guitar playing in tandem with the mighty contributions of pianist Johnnie Johnson—Mr. Berry’s hits remained as engaging in later years as they did when recorded.In 1956 he recorded "Roll Over Beethoven" (the clip above) and it is eerie how prophetic the lyrics were:
“Roll over, Beethoven, and tell Tchaikovsky the news”Rock and roll was not only here to stay, but it was, along with pop music generally, going to become so dominant in music that classical music was going to be pushed aside into a economically precarious niche! Back in 1956 this was not evident, but as soon as the Beatles came along...
George Harrison was better at copying Chuck Berry's guitar style than Keith Richards, wasn't he?
UPPERDATE: Somehow this photo seems to capture what was happening. This is Chuck Berry performing at one of the temples of classical music, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in 1976:
UPPER-UPPERDATE: Ann Althouse has an excellent post on Chuck Berry's lyrics, which might have been even more important than his guitar-playing.