“Keep on rockin’ that pi-a-no,” urges Chuck Berry in one of his great anthems, Rock ‘n’ Roll Music. Berry’s acknowledgment of the ivories in the song is appropriate, for he is requesting musical assistance from Johnnie Johnson, whose boogie-woogie stylings are as much a part of the tune as Johnny B.’s own guitar. In fact, it is the blend of Johnson’s inspired playing in the mix that propels many of rock’s legendary singles.
If you don’t believe it, just break out the Victrola and those scratched-up 45s from the back of the fruit cellar — or better yet, get state of the art and invest in a CD player and Chess’ boxed Chuck Berry set. The proof is right there in the Berry pudding: Rock and Roll Music, Roll Over Beethoven, Maybellene…the list goes on and on. The fabulous interplay between Berry’s country flavored twangings and Johnson’s barrelhouse blues is as magical a musical pairing as one could hope for.