Sex Pistols, Prince, Peter Tosh + More: 12 Great Covers of Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B. Goode’
“If you had to give rock ‘n’ roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry,” John Lennon famously said back in 1972. Indeed, it’s hard to overstate the significance Berry – who passed away on March 18,
2017 at the age of 90 – had on the genre’s history.
One easy way to measure this influence is by checking out the vast number of diverse artists who have covered his songs, in particular, his 1958 classic “Johnny B. Goode.” We’ve collected 12 versions below, from artists ranging from Green Day to Peter Tosh, from Prince (in both electric and acoustic versions!) to the Sex Pistols.
Berry laid out the blueprint for countless future generations of guitarists to build upon. By merging a country twang to a blues base, he created the eternal driving beat of what would become rock and roll. In addition, he took music lyrics to a new level, replacing “Moon, June and spoon” cliches with tales of teenage life, lust, love, and bravado.
“Everybody drives cars. Everybody has to have money. Everybody has a love affair, inspiration. And these are the things I write about,” Berry told CBS News in a 1972 interview. His use of words helped push the genre forward into the art form it would become by the time, to paraphrase Bob Seger “Chuck’s children were out there playing his licks.”
Berry’s music would become the international language of a new generation of musicians who took inspiration and direction from his riffs and words. So while it’s easy to say he changed the game, and that without him the explosion of youth culture of the ’60s may never have happened, it’s also very true.