When I was young, I didn’t really know what good music was; I was raised in a house that veered from Glenn Miller to Toto to Steely Dan, and I remember having a cassette tape of 50s songs (I think it was when McDonald’s was doing their rock n’ roll promotion thing, it had Rock around the Clock, Wake up Little Suzie, Runaround Sue, Runaway, Great Balls of Fire, Summertime Blues, and a few other fifties standards) that I played until it broke, but I never really had any real conscious knowledge of music until I was a teenager and I found the Beatles. Or rather, they found me. The insanity of Beatlemania drove me both forwards and backwards; I read everything about the Beatles I could get my desperate hands on, and that included reading about their inspirations and the music they listened to, which was Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, and so on. Music I was already familiar with in part, but I raged on like the good little addict and snatched up any and all music I could get my hands on (not easy in the days before youtube and mp3s, when I had to try to find tapes or the newfangled CDs not to mention the money required for such things).
Strangely enough, I veered toward what you could call the “black” side of the “Beatle Inspiration” line; I found most of Elvis’ music boring and to this day find little to admire–I don’t dislike him either as a person or a performer, but I simply do not get what all the fuss is about and find other singers to be much more talented; to me Little Richard could bounce Elvis out on his ass any day of the week, but I digress. The white side was fine, but bland (save the always wild Jerry Lee Lewis), but the black side was the stuff that honey and gold was made from. As much as I might dig Rock around the Clock, Summertime Blues, and Blue Suede Shoes, those songs don’t get you leaping around nearly as well as Tutti Frutti, or Roll Over Beethoven, Maybelline, or Johnny B Goode. They’re all great, but I gravitated to the mighty Chuck early on, him and Little Richard, and never looked back. I don’t care how many times I hear it, the classic Chuck opening riff will never leave my soul or my heart, and even though Chuck has left us physically, his mighty spirit and music will always be here with us. Never got to meet him or see him perform, but his song and voice is in my soul, so maybe on the flip side I’ll get to groove on up next to him and do a little duck walk across the stars.