The first time I truly heard him, I was at a pool hall with my older brother. I thought I was being being pretty sneaky, sipping left over Budweiser bottles behind the lower counter while my brother was playing cards. I found out afterwards that they were placing side bets at how long it would be till I would pass out. Some Fleetwood Mac shit was playing on the jukebox and I had had enough. I remember feeling pretty good, kinda cocky as I walked towards the Jukebox. I was gonna put my 2 quarters in and play some Joan Jett or Ramones or ANYTHING but Fleetwood Mac. I walked back towards the counter, stopping just for a second at the card table to pick up a few more bottles that I could sneak back to my table. “I Love Rock n’Roll” was playing and soon I would hear “Beat On The Brat”. Much to my surprise, I heard this amazing guitar intro followed by a story about a country boy named “Johnny B. Goode”.
Now I know that I had listened this song before on the radio but that day was the first time I had HEARD the song. Apparently in my alcohol induced fog, I had hit G15 instead of F15 on the jukebox. Best Goddamned mistake I ever made. It just hit me like a ton of bricks….this was the music that Joan, Joey and Keef stole all their shit from….note for note sometimes. Yeah, Joey put the licks through a buzzsaw and Joan glammed it up but they knew the music was straight up CHUCK.
10 years later, Stone Temple Pilots ruled the radio, Green Day just hit the airwaves and Kurt Cobain had just committed suicide. Rock n’ Roll had changed a lot in those 10 years. But I never forgot that 4/4 rock & roll beat and the epiphany it had laid on an 11 year old kid.
I just finished watching “Hail! Hail! Rock N’ Roll” tonight and I just hope to God I’m still kicking it like Chuck at 60 years old.
“Hail! Hail! Rock N’ Roll” indeed.