As Rolling Stones fans know, the late Chuck Berry was Keith Richards‘ biggest musical hero and inspiration. In honor of Berry, whose funeral was held Sunday in St. Louis, Richards penned a long, heartfelt tribute that he’s posted on his official website and social media sites.
“To Put Chuck Berry into words! That is a task,” writes Keith. “If I flip the coin and wonder how the f*** Chuck Berry reacted to me when he first heard my feeble efforts to spread his groove, my guess is a disdainful chuckle and then a gleam as he imagined the royalties roll in. Then a realization that his music was far more important than he had ever imagined.”
Richards then points out what an imaginative songwriter Berry was, citing such classic tunes as “Johnny B. Goode,” “Little Queenie,” “Around & Around,” “Let It Rock,” “Sweet Little Sixteen,” “Memphis, Tennessee” and “Too Much Monkey Business,” among others.
“His inventiveness, natural exuberance, brought all of the variations of this vital music together, be it Rockabilly, country, R&B, Jazz or pop,” Keith notes.
Richards also discusses Berry’s infamously volatile personality, maintaining, “It’s hard to find the words to describe his contradictions: warm, infuriating, moody, disarmingly charming, angry.”
He recalls that Chuck “once gave me a black eye for daring to touch his guitar,” jokingly adding, “I called it Chuck’s greatest Hit.”
Richards goes on to reveal he decided to become a rock ‘n’ roll guitarist after hearing “Little Queenie” when he was 15. He adds that Berry “brought joy to us; the feeling for a fifteen year old guitar player that there was more to life than seemed possible…In essence, he was a revelation. I ain’t 15 no more but the joy remains.”
Read the full homage at KeithRichards.com.
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