Johnny B. Goode (2:41)

Cover of Chuck Berry Is On Top

From Chuck Berry Is On Top and 583 other releases

Johnny B. Goode is a seminal 1958 rock and roll song by Chuck Berry, ranked by Rolling Stone as the seventh greatest song ever on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and the best guitar song on their list of the 100 greatest guitar songs of all time.

Written by Berry in 1955, the song is a rock and roll version of the American dream — a poor country boy becomes a star by hard work and inspired guitar playing. This image of unknowns with no future achieving fame and fortune through music became a paradigm for countless songs and even careers to follow.

The opening guitar riff on “Johnny B. Goode” may be the most famous single riff in rock and roll history. It is essentially a note-for-note copy of the opening single-note solo on Louis Jordan’s “Ain’t That Just Like a Woman” (1946), played by guitarist Carl Hogan.

Although partly autobiographical, the inspiration for the song is said to have been Johnnie Johnson who played the piano and composed several songs with Berry, and is considered a major contributor to the unmistakable Berry sound. On earlier unreleased takes Chuck sang “colored boy” instead of “country boy”, but it was changed for fear of it not being played on the radio. As a possible source for the last name, it has been noted that Berry was born on Goode Avenue in St. Louis.

Aware of the importance of the song to his fame and his image, Berry has written two more songs about Johnny, “Bye Bye Johnny” and “Go Go Go”, and also titled an instrumental album as “Concerto in B. Goode”.


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