Chuck Berry

Roll over Beethoven

Composed by Chuck Berry

Song Review by

Chuck Berry supposedly wrote this masterpiece in response to his sister hogging the family piano playing the classics while he wanted to jump on the keys and boogie-woogie. True or not, the song -- and its lyrical message -- became one of the early signposts of '50s rock & roll, one that delineated a simple message: rock & roll was the newest, coolest music there was and it was going to wipe all the old fuddy-duddy sounds off the board forever. While it didn't do exactly that, it did become one of the clarion calls of the new music, helping to define its sound as well. The original recording by Berry is fraught with anomalies not found on the majority of his best-known recordings. Played in the key of E flat, it's taken at a much faster tempo than any of his other hits that employ his signature guitar intro. There's considerable vocal distortion present on the entire track, Berry nailing the mic and popping consonants throughout. The drummer does not contribute one single roll during the entire performance, clobbering a backbeat that sounds like one hand was tied behind his back while the mix is generally murky, with two saxophones only emerging on the final chord. With famous cover versions from Jerry Lee Lewis and the Beatles, the song has gone on to become a staple of rock & roll bands (like most of Berry's song catalog) and is open to variety of interpretations, most artists opt for a slower reading of the tune.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Rock, Rock, Rock 1956
Original Soundtrack
Chess 2:20
Chuck Berry Is on Top 1959 Chess / MCA 2:20
No Image 1962
No Image 1964 Chess
Chuck Berry's Golden Hits 1967 Mercury 2:01
No Image 1976 Chess
Oldies But Goodies: Legendary Hits 1979
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:23
No Image 1981 East World/Toshiba
The Great Twenty-Eight 1982 Chess 2:23
No Image 1983 Chess
No Image 1985 JEM/Passport
No Image 1986 Golden Circle
Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll 1987 MCA 3:15
The Chess Box 1988 Chess 2:22
The Rock 'N' Roll Radio Collection: Live Rock'N'Roll Broadcasts from 1956 1989
Various Artists
Deja Vu 3:09
Vintage Music: Original Classic Oldies from the 1950's : Vols. 1 & 2 1990
Various Artists
Rock & Roll Originators 1990
Various Artists
JCI Associated Labels 2:22
The Great Chuck Berry 1993 Goldies 2:24
Chuck Berry [Timeless Treasures] 1994 Timeless Treasures 1:49
Vintage Collectibles, Vol.  7: 1955-1958 1995
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 2:22
No Image 1995 Magnum
Alan Freed's R&R Dance Party 1995
Various Artists
Magnum 2:14
The EP Collection 1996 See For Miles Records
Rock 'N' Roll Nonstop Party Mix 1997
Various Artists
ZYX Music 1:04
Guitar Legends 1997 Universal Special Products 2:25
His Best, Vol. 1 1997 Chess 2:25
Greatest Rock & Roll Party, Vol. 1 1997
Various Artists
Great Hits 2:24
The Chess Blues-Rock Songbook: The Classic Originals 1997
Various Artists
MCA / Chess 2:26
Wonderful Music of Chuck Berry 1998 Allegiance Records 2:25
Twin Best 1999 Chess
Loud, Fast & Out of Control: The Wild Sounds of the '50s [Box] 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 2:25
Chuck Berry [Magic Collection] 2000 The Magic Collection 2:03
The Anthology 2000 MCA / Chess 2:24
From Andres Segovia to Jimi Hendrix: History of the Guitar-From Renaissance to Rock and 2000
Various Artists
Legacy 1:52
Greatest Hits [Australia] 2000 Mastersound 1:51
Johnny B. Goode [Columbia River] 2001 Allegro Corporation 3:23
Rock N Roll Classics [Columbia River] 2001
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group 3:23
Soul Sensations [Columbia River] 2001
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group 3:23
Crown Prince of Rock 'N Roll [2003] 2003 American Legends 3:37
Ultimate Legends: Chuck Berry 2003 United Multi License 2:26
Chuck Berry [Universal International] 2003 Universal International
Roots of Rock [Acrobat] 2003
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group
Rock and Roll Music [Fabulous] 2003 Columbia River Entertainment Group 3:36
Rock N Roll: Gold Collection 2004
Various Artists
Dejavu Retro 3:21
Father of Rock and Roll 2005 Aim Records / American Legends 3:26
Ultimate Chuck Berry 2007 UMVD 2:23
Yow 2007
Primo Records 2:27
100% Rolling Stone
Various Artists
Frequency Records
21 Super Golden Oldies
Various Artists
Four of a Kind: 200 Classic Songs (from Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash and Chuck Berry)
Various Artists
HLI 2:28
No Image
Various Artists
Roulette Records 2:30
Rock 'n' Roll
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 2:23
No Image
No Image Chess
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