Want to start an argument? Declare that one decade’s worth of music is better than another. It’s right up there with politics as a surefire way to get people up and in each other’s faces. Well, I think we can all decide that the 1970’s were a “meh” decade, musically. Each decade has its own standouts though, and the ‘50’s had several of them. We see one of them in this video from “American Bandstand”, which was recorded in ’57.
Dick Clark, who would look nearly the same three decades later, said that while summer was coming up, school was not over yet. He introduced Chuck Berry as “Professor Berry” and said he would be singing his hit song, “School Days.” Berry came out in a graduation gown and he was holding a guitar as a prop since he was lip-syncing the song. Clark did not want to pay backup bands. No matter – band or no band, Berry commanded the stage.
People who got to see Berry in his prime got to witness greatness. He had it all – musical talent, charisma and an elastic body that allowed him to do things on stage that few people ever could. He did a hint of it in this video, though that graduation gown didn’t let him do the crouch walk for very long. I hope that the kids who were in that audience, many of whom are now in their 70’s appreciate what they were in the presence of.
Every generation thinks that their music is the greatest. For me, the ‘80’s were the best, but I have some appreciation for the great guitar work that Berry helped pioneer for all subsequent generations. That’s why I think YouTube is so great for the archival of this music. Decades from now, people can still watch this and hopefully they will find themselves tapping their feet along with the music.
Wasn’t Berry absolutely mesmerizing? Did you ever get a chance to see him live? If so, tell us your story in the comments section!