About the song
If you are a fan of rock and roll music, you probably know the classic song “Roll Over Beethoven” by Chuck Berry. But do you know the history behind this iconic tune? In this blog post, we will explore the origins, influences and legacy of “Roll Over Beethoven”, one of the most influential songs in rock history.
“Roll Over Beethoven” was written by Chuck Berry in 1956 as a tribute to his musical heroes and a challenge to the dominance of classical music. The song’s title is a reference to Ludwig van Beethoven, the famous composer, and the lyrics mention other classical composers like Tchaikovsky and Bach. The song also expresses Berry’s love for rhythm and blues and his desire to hear more of it on the radio.
The song was recorded by Berry and his band at Chess Studios in Chicago on May 6, 1956. It was released as a single in June 1956, with “Drifting Heart” as the B-side. The song reached number 29 on the Billboard pop chart and number two on the R&B chart. It was also Berry’s first hit in the UK, where it peaked at number 17.
“Roll Over Beethoven” is considered one of the first rock and roll songs to use a guitar solo as a central element. Berry’s distinctive guitar style, which combined blues riffs, country licks and boogie-woogie rhythms, influenced countless rock musicians who followed him. The song also features a prominent piano part by Johnnie Johnson, Berry’s longtime collaborator.
The song has been covered by many artists over the years, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Electric Light Orchestra, Jerry Lee Lewis, Status Quo and Iron Maiden. One of the most famous versions was recorded by The Beatles in 1963, with George Harrison on lead vocals and guitar. The Beatles performed the song live many times, including at their first US concert in Washington DC in 1964.
Another notable version was recorded by Chuck Berry himself in 1972, when he performed the song live at the BBC Television Theatre in London. He was backed by a British band called Rockin’ Horse, which featured Dave Harrison on drums, Billy Kinsley on bass, Jimmy Campbell on guitar and Michael Snow on piano. The performance was broadcast on BBC Two as part of a series called Sounds for Saturday .