This post is intended as supplemental material for the course “Sounds of Laughter: Musical Comedy in the United States”
In the opening chapter of his book, Ellis details the enormous impact of Chuck Berry on rock & roll, musical comedy, and American culture.
The influence of Chuck Berry upon developments in the 1950s cannot be overestimated. His trailblazing and influence on contemporaries, alongside his catalogue of musical manifestos to youth identity, make him the prime candidate for attribution as rock & roll’s primary creator. Berry used the power of his lyrical wit to exploit the growing visibility of the boom-youths. His witty anthems to youth identity both captured the concerns and dreams of youth, while often quietly subverting those themes with subtle racial quirks and calls to youth dissent. (Ellis 2008, 25-6)
Watching Berry’s performance, it may seem old-fashioned (since so much rock & roll and rock music has come since then) but at the time he was truly revolutionary.