March 31, 1958

On this day in 1958, Chuck Berry released the single, ‘Johnny B. Goode’.

Written by Berry in 1955, it is somewhat of an autobiographical song. Berry was first inspired by piano player Johnnie Johnson, but while in the process of writing, Berry quickly turned the focus on himself.

It was recorded at Chess Studios in Chicago, Illinois, on January 6, 1958, and produced by Little “Bongo” Kraus. The song featured Chuck Berry on vocals and guitar, Lafayette Leake on piano, Willie Dixon on bass, and Fred Below on drums.

There were minor difficulties that needed some tinkering with before the radio would allow the song to be played. Berry had to change his original lyrics “That little coloured boy can play”, to “That little country boy can play”. It is Berry’s most famous recording, receiving many awards and much praise. It is one of the most covered songs in music history with over 150 artists and groups from a wide range of musical genres and years – from Jimi Hendrix to Bad Religion, Judas Priest to LL Cool J, Prince to NOFX – the list goes on!

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