On March 18, 2017, the music community went into mourning following the news that rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry had passed away at the age of 90. A well-respected guitarist, singer, and songwriter, Berry was known for timeless songs such as “Maybellene,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” and “Johnny B. Goode.”
Although he was a rock and roll artist, Berry’s influence spread to other genres. Many country artists have been inspired by his extraordinary talent, and have decided to honor him by performing his songs during their concerts.
Now that Berry is no longer with us, these performances are all the more meaningful. Look below to see seven of the most extraordinary tributes to the rock and roll legend.
The Charlie Daniels Band With Ted Nugent-“Carol”
Written and recorded by Berry, “Carol” was released as single in 1958. The song peaked at the 18th spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached the ninth spot on the R&B charts.
In 1964, the Rolling Stones offered up their own cover of the tune. The Beatles covered it during a live show the year prior, and the recording from that show was released in 1994.
But our favorite cover of “Carol” has to be the one performed by the Charlie Daniels Band and Ted Nugent during the 1980 Volunteer Jam. It was one high-energy performance that left the crowd on the edge of their seats!
Waylon Jennings & Jessi Colter-“You Never Can Tell”
One of Berry’s most popular songs, “You Never Can Tell” was written by Berry and released in 1964. The song hit the 14th spot on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the R&B charts following its release.
Before he became one of the pioneers of the outlaw country music, Waylon Jennings had close ties to the rock and roll world. He worked for Buddy Holly, who was a huge fan of Berry’s. As a result, Jennings came to develop a great appreciation for Berry’s music as well.
Jennings covered many of Berry’s songs over the years, including “You Never Can Tell.” Along with his wife Jessi Colter, Jennings managed to turn the song into a sweet country duet.
George Jones & Johnny Paycheck-“Maybellene”
Considered to be one of the first rock and roll songs, Berry wrote “Maybellene” and released it as his first single in 1955. After topping the R&B chart and claiming the fifth spot on the Billboard Hot 100, “Maybellene” established Berry as a force to be reckoned with in the music world.
Due to its popularity, “Maybellene” has been covered by a surprising number of country artists, including Conway Twitty and Marty Robbins. But the most notable cover was recorded by George Jones and Johnny Paycheck.
Jones and Paycheck released their duet of “Maybellene” off of their 1980 album Double Trouble. Their cover is perfectly rowdy, just like you’d expect from them!
Buck Owens-“Johnny B. Goode”
Although “Johnny B. Goode” wasn’t a number one hit, it is arguably Berry’s most recognizable song. Berry penned the tune himself and released it in 1958. It fell just short of the top spot on the R&B chart, where it peaked at the second position.
The song finally made its way to the top of a chart 11 years later, but this time it was the country chart. Buck Owens dished out a cover of the tune in 1969, and managed to take it to the top of the country chart.
You won’t be able to keep yourself from tapping your toe as you listen to Owen’s energetic cover of this classic tune!
Emmylou Harris-“You Never Can Tell”
As a true testament to Berry’s talent, dozens of artists have stepped up to cover “You Never Can Tell.” Country artists seem to be particularly fond of the song!
Other than Jennings and Colter, some country artists that have covered “You Never Can Tell” include Chely Wright and John Prine. But the most well-know country cover belongs to none other than Emmylou Harris.
Early in her career, Harris sang Berry’s songs as a member of a folk trio. That familiarity with his music led her to record “You Never Can Tell,” which she released as the lead single off of her 1977 album Luxury Liner. Her version of the song hit the sixth spot on the Billboard Country and Western chart. Once you listen to it, you’ll understand why!
Toby Keith-“Memphis, Tennessee”
Believe it or not, “Memphis, Tennessee” wasn’t one of Berry’s biggest hits. In fact, it didn’t even chart at al in the U.S. But the song was a huge hit in the UK, and claimed the sixth spot on the chart there.
Over the years, other artists helped increase the song’s popularity through their covers. Dave Berry and the Cruisers, Johnny Rivers, and the Beatles are just a handful of artists that put their own spin on the tune.
In the country world, Sammy Kershaw, the Statler Brothers, and Hank Williams Jr. have all released their own versions of “Memphis, Tennessee.” One of the most recent covers came from Toby Keith in 2011. You’ll be bouncing along in your seat as you listen to Keith pay tribute to Berry with this track!
Brad Paisley-“Johnny B. Goode”
— Brad Paisley (@BradPaisley) March 19, 2017
Following Berry’s death, many artists chose to pay tribute to him by singing his signature song. Brad Paisley was one of those artists.
Just hours after the news of Berry’s death went public, Paisley was scheduled to step on stage at the Runaway Country Music Fest in Kissimmee, Florida. The audience joined in Paisley’s performance, singing along with him as he pushed through the once-in-a-lifetime performance. We’re sure Berry would have been proud.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Berry’s family and the entire music community during this sad time. He’ll be dearly missed.