Johnny B. Goode
|"Johnny B. Goode"|
|Single by Chuck Berry|
|from the album Chuck Berry Is on Top|
|B-side||"Around & Around"|
|Released||March 31, 1958|
|Format||7" 45 RPM, 10" 78 RPM|
|Recorded||January 6, 1958, Chess Studios, Chicago, Illinois|
|Genre||Rock and roll|
|Producer(s)||Little "Bongo" Kraus|
|Chuck Berry singles chronology|
"Johnny B. Goode" is a 1958 rock-and-roll song written and first recorded by Chuck Berry. The song was a major hit among both black and white audiences, peaking at number 2 on Billboard magazine's Hot R&B Sides chart and number 8 on its Hot 100 chart.
The song is one of Berry's most famous. It has been recorded by many other artists and has received several honors and accolades. It is also considered one of the most recognizable songs in music history. The song is ranked as number seven on Rolling Stone's list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time".
Composition and recording
Written by Berry in 1955, the song is about an illiterate "country boy" who plays a guitar "just like ringing a bell," and who might one day have his "name in lights." Berry has 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. 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. The song was initially inspired by Johnnie Johnson, the regular piano player in Berry's band, 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.
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. Neither the guitar intro nor the solo are played at once. Berry played the introductory parts together with the rhythm guitar and later overdubbed the solo runs.
Berry has written three more songs involving the character Johnny B. Goode, "Bye Bye Johnny", "Go Go Go", and "Johnny B. Blues"; and titled an album, and the nearly 19 min instrumental title track from it, as "Concerto in B. Goode".
- Chuck Berry - vocals, guitars
- Lafayette Leake - piano
- Willie Dixon - bass
- Fred Below - drums
In popular culture
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Berry's recording of the song was included on the Voyager Golden Record, attached to the Voyager spacecraft as representing rock and roll, one of four American songs included among many cultural achievements of humanity.
When Chuck Berry was inducted into the first Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on January 23, 1986, he performed "Johnny B. Goode" and "Rock and Roll Music", backed by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. The Hall of Fame included these songs and "Maybellene" in their list of the 500 songs that shaped Rock and Roll. It was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999, for its influence as a rock and roll single.
In the 1984 film Threads, the song is heard three times. The first time is when core characters Ruth Beckett and Jimmy Kemp discuss the future of their relationship before the outbreak of nuclear war, in his car overlooking Sheffield. The second time is when Jimmy is at a pub, drinking with his mate. The last time is fourteen years after the nuclear holocaust, as Ruth and Jimmy's daughter Jane, heavily pregnant, struggles to find a hospital in which to give birth. The song seems to be emanating from a nightclub, pub or brothel within the devastated post-apocalyptic town.
In the 1985 film Back to the Future, Marty McFly performs the song with the fictional band Marvin Berry and the Starlighters during the "Enchantment Under the Sea" high school dance, set in November 1955. Mark Campbell (of Jack Mack and the Heart Attack fame) sang the vocals and Tim May played the guitar, with Michael J. Fox shown miming to both. This scene was revisited in Back to the Future Part II (1989). During Marty's rendition of the song, Marvin telephones his cousin Chuck, to have him hear what might be the "new sound" Chuck is looking for.
|List||Publisher||Rank||Year of publication|
|500 Greatest Songs of All Time||Rolling Stone||7||2010|
|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|
|"Johnny Be Good"|
|Single by Judas Priest|
|from the album Ram It Down|
|B-side||"Rock You All Around the World" (live)|
|Format||7" 45 RPM, 12" maxi|
|Producer(s)||Tom Allom, Glenn Tipton, K. K. Downing, Rob Halford|
|Judas Priest singles chronology|
The song has been recorded by a wide variety of artists in different genres.
The Beatles' version
|"Johnny B. Goode"|
|Song by The Beatles from the album Live at the BBC|
|Released||30 November 1994 (UK)
5 December 1994 (US)
|Recorded||7 January 1964, Playhouse Theatre, London, for the BBC radio show Saturday Club|
The Beatles recorded their version of the song on 7 January 1964 at the Playhouse Theatre in London for the BBC radio show Saturday Club. Chuck Berry was a favorite among the Beatles. They had 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, and several others that subsequently were released on Live at the BBC.
Adapted from The Beatles Bible
- John Lennon - vocals, rhythm guitar
- Paul McCartney - bass
- George Harrison - lead guitar
- Ringo Starr - drums
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- "The 50 greatest film soundtracks". The Guardian. 18 March 2007. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
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- "Chuck Berry Johnny B Goode". Blues Guitar Expert. 2015-02-26. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
- "Charts & Awards: Buck Owens – Billboard Singles". Allmusic. United States: Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
- "Johnny B. Goode - Full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
- ""Johnny B. Goode" by Jimi Hendrix" (ASP). New Zealand Top 50 Singles. Hung Medien. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
- "Leif Garrett, Leif Garrett". Retrieved December 16, 2016.
- "Charts & Awards: Peter Tosh – Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Rovi. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
- "Peter Tosh: Full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
- ""Johnny B. Goode" by Peter Tosh" (ASP). australian-charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
- "The Beatles Bible: Johnny B Goode". Retrieved May 21, 2016.
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