Award for Musical Excellence
Hall of Fame Essay
On a fateful day in early 1956, Johnnie Johnson and Chuck Berry headed to Chicago for their fourth recording session at Chess Records.
Their first three efforts had produced the blues-inflected stylings of “Wee Wee Hours,” “No Money Down” and “Downbound Train” and the cut-time country raveups “Maybellene,” “You Can’t Catch Me” and “Thirty Days.” The results had been impressive, jump-starting Berry’s career with four Top Ten R&B hits, one of which, “Maybellene,” enjoyed similar success on the pop chart.
Johnnie Johnson’s piano is all over these songs, contributing rollicking high-end boogie-woogie licks that served as the perfect counterpoint to Berry’s souped-up guitar on the uptempo tunes, while on the slow blues, such as “Wee Wee Hours,” Johnson laid down triplet-ridden , soulful responsorial fils and a solo that proved him the equal of any blues pianist then current on the Chicago scene.
whoever invented the piano, eat your heart out
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