Monday, April 21, 2008

50 years ago: Chuck Berry charted with “Johnny B. Goode”

Johnny B. Goode

Chuck Berry

Writer(s): Chuck Berry (see lyrics here)

First Charted: April 21, 1958

Peak: 8 US, 11 CB, 15 HR, 2 RB, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 26.6 video, 225.92 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

With his rags-to-riches song “Johnny B. Goode,” Chuck Berry created a character who symbolizes an Elvis Presley-type who comes from humble beginnings and whose mother promises her son that his name will be in lights someday. DM Berry says the improvised tale of a young man who plays “his guitar all the way to stardom” TC is “more or less” his story, RS500 with a few details changed.

The character is named after pianist TC Johnnie Johnson. Berry joined Johnson’s group, the Sir John Trio, in 1953, soon becoming the focal point as the lead singer. SF Johnson wrote many of Berry’s hits on piano and then Berry converted them to guitar. TC Berry said he originally wrote “Johnny B. Goode” for Johnson. SS

The name “Goode” came from the street where Berry grew up, TB 2520 Goode Avenue, AH one nowhere close to the song’s setting in a cabin “deep down in Louisiana, close to New Orleans.” Berry grew up in St. Louis and proclaimed, “I don’t think I’ve actually seen a real log cabin, much less lived in one!” SJ

Berry was not illiterate like the song’s character. He went to beauty school and graduated with a hairdressing and cosmetology degree. RS500 Lyrically, “that little colored boy could play” was changed to “that little country boy could play,” because, as Berry said, “I thought it would seem biased to white fans” DM and “it wouldn’t get on the radio.” RS500

Music historian Steve Sullivan says, “No other record defines the very essence of rock ‘n’ roll like ‘Johnny B. Goode.’” SS It “established the sound of the rock and roll guitar.” PW That famous guitar intro is nearly a note-for-note copy of the opening solo in Louis Jordan’s 1946 “Ain’t That Just Like a Woman,” played by guitarist Carl Hogan. He wasn’t the first to play it either. The riff dates back to a 1918 recording of “Bluin’ the Blues” by Wilbur Sweatman’s Jazz Orchestra. AH It also appeared in songs by Blind Blake, Count Basie, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and others before Jordan’s record. AH Rock critic Dave Marsh says “You can’t copyright guitar licks and maybe that’s good, because if you could, …we’d lose not just the Beach Boys, but essential elements of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bob Seger, and Bruce Springsteen.” DM


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First posted 7/13/2014; last updated 4/2/2023.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Asia’s original lineup returns for Phoenix



Released: April 11, 2008

Peak: 73 US, 166 UK, -- CN, -- AU

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US and UK)

Genre: heritage rock


  1. Never Again (2008, --)
  2. Nothing’s Forever
  3. Heroine
  4. Sleeping Giant/ No Way Back/ Reprise
  5. Alibis
  6. I Will Remember You
  7. Shadow of a Doubt
  8. Parallel Worlds/ Vortex/ Deya
  9. Wish I’d Known All Along
  10. Orchard of Mines
  11. Over and Over
  12. An Extraordinary Life (2008, --)

The Players:

  • Geoff Downes (keyboards)
  • Steve Howe (guitar)
  • Carl Palmer (drums)
  • John Wetton (vocals/ bass)


3.396 out of 5.00 (average of 6 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“Like the Phoenix of the title of their 2008 album, Asia has risen from the ashes” STE “hot from a year and a half successful reunion tour” JC “and made their first studio album with their original lineup in a quarter century.” STE “With a revered musical pedigree, Geoff Downes (Yes, The Buggles), Steve Howe (Yes), Carl Palmer (ELP), and John Wetton (King Crimson) have returned to their hit making roots” AZ and in the process managed to “relive those glory years” JC and “beat the odds and…released an accomplished record.” JC

“Asia’s eponymously titled debut album in 1982 was both ecstatically received and the biggest selling album of the year. It spawned…‘Heat of the Moment,’ ‘Only Time Will Tell’ and ‘Sole Survivor.’ Over the greater part of the 80s, Asia racked up 15 million in global record sales.” AZ

“Howe and Palmer have more than kept up their chops over the years with Yes and ELP reunions plus various side projects. But the real treat, as always with Asia, is the songwriting of Wetton and Downes. For really, Asia is a balance of two great songwriters and two virtuoso musicians.” JC “This is a good mix of progressive music and pop melody.” JC

“Featuring the anthemic lead track Never Again, and the poignant An Extraordinary Life,” AZ “which the band currently showcases live,” JC “Asia’s revived the sound that made them radio staples.” AZ “The remarkable thing about Phoenix is that in pure sonic terms, it could have appeared as the sequel to Alpha in 1985 instead of the Steve Howe-less Astra, which is a remarkable achievement in many ways.” STE

“Some tunes may be very similiar to the recent Wetton/Downes Icon projects (also highly recommended) and others are definitely a throwback to the sound of the 80’s, these songs are informed with heart and vision worthy of the band’s phenomal first record.” JC “What makes the album more interesting is that it is suffused with a sense of mortality. This is no doubt due in part to singer/ songwriter/ bassist John Wetton’s brush with death via open heart surgery…but his frankness in regards to death gives Phoenix an emotional pull that Asia lacked on their twin blockbusters of 1982’s Asia and 1983’s Alpha.” STE

“This makes Phoenix a richer experience, but the nice thing about the album is that it’s also easy to appreciate on a simpler musical level, in how the band has a suppleness when they stretch out into multi-part suites while retaining a knack for big, arena pop hooks. All this adds up to a comeback that is surprisingly compelling and surprisingly moving, something that only die-hard fans may have suspected the band still had in them.” STE

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First posted 6/24/2010; updated 8/9/2021.