RIP Chuck Berry

Tell Tchaikovsky The News


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While I’m not a fan of drawing obituary cartoons, especially ones including St. Peter and the Pearly gates, I will make the occasional exception. I usually need a good reason to draw one, other than my editors love them and the issue isn’t Donald Trump. For this one, I’m a guitar player. How can I not give tribute to Chuck Berry?

I didn’t really listen to Berry. But I did. Everyone who has ever listened to rock and roll has listened to Chuck Berry whether they knew it or not. Every guitar player has copied Chuck Berry, even if he’s never listened to one of his songs in his life.

Everyone you’ve listened to was influenced by Berry, and their influences were influenced by Berry. He’s been praised by John Lennon, Bob Dylan, and Keith Richards. He was lovingly ripped off by The Beach Boys (listen to the intro to “Surfin’ USA).

Chuck Berry was brilliant. It wasn’t just his guitar riffs that allowed him to play in front of white kids in segregated venues. His lyrics were really sharp and clever. Anyone who came up with “roll over, Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news” is a genius. I actually got this idea while watching a video of him playing this tune to an audience in Belgium.

My only real regret with this cartoon is that I didn’t draw an ES-335.

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