Following the death of Chuck Berry on Saturday (March 18), Billboard spoke with blues legend Buddy Guy about the late rock architect's incalculable impact on music and why "Chuck's genius was an instant thing." Here are Guy's reflections on Berry, as told to David Ritz.
Never will forget when I first heard “Maybellene.” I was still on the farm in Lettsville, Louisiana, out there in the middle of nowhere with nothing on mind ‘cept pretty girls and hot blues. We had this broken-down battery radio with a raggedy antenna sticking up in the back. When it rained, the radio would crackle and fade, but luckily on this day the sun was shining bright.
I’m listening to WLAC where they’re hawking Royal Crown Hair Pomade and Randy’s Record Store in Gallatin, Tennessee, and here comes something I never heard before. Mind you, I was a good student of the blues. I knew all about Lightnin’ Slim and Muddy and Wolf and Little Walter and John Lee. But this shit was different. The guitar had a different twang and the story had a different twist. It was all about a V8 Ford chasing Coupe de Ville and catching up with Maybellene on top of the hill. First time I saw how a song could be poetry in motion.