Johnny B. Goode

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"Johnny B. Goode"
Chuck berry - johnny b goode - record label.jpg
Single by Chuck Berry
from the album Chuck Berry Is on Top
B-side"Around and Around"
ReleasedMarch 31, 1958 (1958-03-31)
RecordedJanuary 6, 1958
StudioChess, Chicago
GenreRock and roll
Songwriter(s)Chuck Berry
Producer(s)Little "Bongo" Kraus
Chuck Berry singles chronology
"Sweet Little Sixteen"
"Johnny B. Goode"
"Beautiful Delilah"
Audio sample

"Johnny B. Goode" is a 1958 rock-and-roll song written and first recorded by Chuck Berry. The song was a major hit, peaking at number two on Billboard magazine's Hot R&B Sides chart and number eight on its Hot 100 chart.[1]

"Johnny B. Goode" is considered one of the most recognizable songs in the history of popular music. Credited as "the first rock & roll hit about rock & roll stardom",[2] it has been recorded by many other artists and has received several honors and accolades. The song is also ranked seventh on Rolling Stone's list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time".[3]

Composition and recording[edit]

Written by Berry in 1955, the song is about an illiterate "country boy" from the New Orleans area, who plays a guitar "just like ringing a bell", and who might one day have his "name in lights".[4] Berry acknowledged that the song is partly autobiographical and that the original lyrics referred to Johnny as a "colored boy", but he changed it to "country boy" to ensure radio play.[5] As well as suggesting that the guitar player is good, the title hints at autobiographic elements, because Berry was born at 2520 Goode Avenue, in St. Louis.[4] The song was initially inspired by Johnnie Johnson, the regular piano player in Berry's band,[6][7] but developed into a song mainly about Berry himself. Johnson played on many other recordings by Berry, but Lafayette Leake played the piano on this song.[4]

The opening guitar riff of "Johnny B. Goode" 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.[8] Berry, in accordance with his custom, first recorded the intro and rhythm guitar and later overdubbed the other solo runs.[9]

Berry wrote four more songs involving the character Johnny B. Goode, "Bye Bye Johnny", "Go Go Go", "Johnny B. Blues" and "Lady B. Goode"; and titled an album, and the nearly 19-minute instrumental title track from it, as "Concerto in B. Goode".


Chart history[edit]


A golden record
The Voyager Golden Record contains "Johnny B. Goode" among various musical pieces from many cultures.

In The Guardian, Joe Queenan wrote that "Johnny B. Goode" is "probably the first song ever written about how much money a musician could make by playing the guitar", and argued that "no song in the history of rock'n'roll more jubilantly celebrates the downmarket socioeconomic roots of the genre".[15] In Billboard, Jason Lipshutz stated that the song was "the first rock-star origin story", and that it featured "a swagger and showmanship that had not yet invaded radio."[16]

The song is used after Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames scores a goal at home games at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

When Chuck Berry was inducted during the first Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on January 23, 1986, he performed "Johnny B. Goode" and "Rock and Roll Music", backed by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.[17] The Hall of Fame included these songs and "Maybellene" in their list of the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll.[18] It was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999, for its influence as a rock and roll single.[19]

This song was featured in the 1985 time-travel film Back to the Future and in its 1989 sequel, although from a different perspective, and in one of the main scenes of the 1973 coming-of-age comedy-drama American Graffiti.[20] The song is featured several times in the 1984 nuclear-war film Threads The song also appears in the 1995 JRPG EarthBound as Frank Fly's battle theme.


List Publisher Rank Year of publication
500 Greatest Songs of All Time Rolling Stone 7 2004
100 Greatest Guitar Tracks Q 42 2005
100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time Rolling Stone 1 2008
Top 3000 Songs Acclaimed Music 6 N/A
500 Songs That Shaped Rock Rock and Roll Hall of Fame N/A 1995
50 Greatest Guitar Solos Guitar World 12 2009

Cover versions[edit]

The song has been recorded by a wide variety of artists in different genres.

Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush recorded a version of the song on their 1978 live album.[21]

A 1962 recording by The Rolling Stones is available on YouTube.

The Beatles recorded a version of the song on January 7, 1964, at the Playhouse Theatre in London for the BBC radio show Saturday Club. The Beatles' version featured John Lennon on vocals and rhythm guitar, Paul McCartney on bass guitar, George Harrison on lead guitar, and Ringo Starr on drums.[22] Chuck Berry was a favorite of the band members. They previously and subsequently recorded versions of other songs by Berry, including "Roll Over Beethoven", released on the album With the Beatles in 1963, and "Rock and Roll Music", released on Beatles for Sale in 1964, along with several others that subsequently were released on Live at the BBC.[22]

Country musician Buck Owens's version of "Johnny B. Goode" topped Billboard magazine's Hot Country Sides chart in 1969.[23]

Blues guitarist Johnny Winter recorded a version of the song on his third studio album Second Winter in 1969.

Jimi Hendrix had a posthumous hit with "Johnny B. Goode", which peaked at number 35 on the UK Singles Chart in 1972[24] and number 13 on the New Zealand Top 50 in 1986.[25]

Leif Garrett released a version of the song on his 1977 album, Leif Garrett.[26]

Peter Tosh's version of the song peaked at number 84 on the Billboard Hot 100,[27] number 48 on the UK Singles Chart,[28] number 10 in the Netherlands, and number 29 in New Zealand in 1983.[29]

Judas Priest's version reached number 64 on the UK Singles Chart in 1988.[24]

Brazilian comedy rock band João Penca e Seus Miquinhos Amestrados made a Portuguese-language parody of the song, entitled "Johnny Pirou". It is present in their 1989 album Sucesso do Inconsciente.

John Denver recorded a version on his self-titled album.

Elvis Presley performed the song in many of his concert appearances from 1969-1973. Recorded live versions can be heard on two Elvis concert albums: Elvis in Person at the International Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada from 1969 and Aloha from Hawaii Via Satellite in 1973.

NOFX recorded a version on their 1987 EP The P.M.R.C. Can Suck on This.[30]


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942–1988. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. p. 42. ISBN 0-89820-068-7.
  2. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time: 7. Chuck Berry, 'Johnny B. Goode'". April 7, 2011. Retrieved March 22, 2017. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  3. ^ "Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time". Rolling Stone. April 2010. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d Taylor, Timothy D. (2000). "Chapter 7 – His Name Was in Lights: Chuck Berry's 'Johnny B. Goode'". In Middleton, Richard (ed.). Reading Pop: Approaches to Textual Analysis in Popular Music. Oxford University Press. pp. 165–167, 177. ISBN 0-19-816611-7.
  5. ^ "Johnny B. Goode". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on December 28, 2006. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
  6. ^ "Johnny Johnson". Blues Music Now. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
  7. ^ Ratliff, Ben (April 14, 2005). "Johnnie Johnson, 80, Dies; Inspired 'Johnny B. Goode'". New York Times. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
  8. ^ Miller, James (1999). Flowers in the Dustbin: The Rise of Rock and Roll, 1947–1977. Simon & Schuster. p. 104. ISBN 0-684-80873-0.
  9. ^ Rudolph, Dietmar. "Johnny B. Goode take 3 isn't - I mean take 3 - The Chuck Berry Collectors Blog". Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  10. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  11. ^ "Charts & Awards: Chuck Berry – Billboard Singles". AllMusic. Rovi. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
  12. ^ "Cash Box Top Singles 5/31/58". Archived from the original on June 3, 2018. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
  13. ^ "Chuck Berry Chart History (Hot Rock Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  14. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1958/Top 100 Songs of 1958". Music Outfitters.
  15. ^ Queenan, Joe (June 21, 2007). "The story of Johnny B Goode". The Guardian. Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  16. ^ Lipshutz, Jason (March 18, 2017). "How Chuck Berry's 'Johnny B. Goode' Helped Define 'Back to the Future'". Billboard. Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  17. ^ Barker, Derek (2009). Liner notes to Bruce Springsteen's Jukebox: The Songs that Inspired the Man [CD]. Chrome Dreams.
  18. ^ "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll by Artists (A-C)". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on May 24, 2007.
  19. ^ "Grammy Hall of Fame – Past Recipients (Letter J)". The Grammy Awards. United States: National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on January 22, 2011. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
  20. ^ "The 50 greatest film soundtracks". The Guardian. March 18, 2007. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  21. ^
  22. ^ a b "The Beatles Bible: Johnny B Goode". Retrieved May 21, 2016.
  23. ^ "Charts & Awards: Buck Owens – Billboard Singles". Allmusic. United States: Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
  24. ^ a b "Johnny B. Goode - Full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Official Charts Company. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  25. ^ ""Johnny B. Goode" by Jimi Hendrix" (ASP). New Zealand Top 50 Singles. Hung Medien. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
  26. ^ "Leif Garrett, Leif Garrett". Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  27. ^ "Charts & Awards: Peter Tosh – Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Rovi. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
  28. ^ "Peter Tosh: Full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  29. ^ ""Johnny B. Goode" by Peter Tosh" (ASP). australian-charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
  30. ^ "The P.M.R.C. Can Suck on This - NOFX - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic.