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
Chuck Berry's Golden Hits 1967 Mercury 2:01
Oldies But Goodies, Vol. 10 196?
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:22
No Image 1976 Chess
Oldies But Goodies: Legendary Hits 1979
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:23
No Image 1982 Mercury
No Image 1983 Chess
Sweet Little Rock N Roller [Mercury] 1984 MCA 2:23
No Image 1985 JEM / Passport
Cruisin' 1956 1986
Various Artists
Increase Records 2:33
Giants of Rock 'N' Roll [Baur] 1987
Various Artists
Baur 2:05
Hail, Hail Rock 'N Roll 1988 Charly Records
Let Me Hear Some of That Rock and Roll Music! 1989 Peter Pan (ISP) 2:21
No Image 1990
Various Artists
MCA
Vintage Music: Original Classic Oldies from the 1950's : Vols. 1 & 2 1990
Various Artists
MCA
No Image 1990 Chess 0:00
The Rock 'N' Roll Era: 1956 1993
Various Artists
JCI Associated Labels 2:24
No Image 1994 Highland Records
Chuck Berry [Timeless Treasures] 1994 Timeless Treasures 1:49
Vintage Collectibles, Vol.  7: 1955-1958 1995
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 2:22
Alan Freed's R&R Dance Party 1995
Various Artists
Magnum 2:14
The EP Collection 1996 See For Miles Records
Roll Over Beethoven [Success] 1996 Success 2:23
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
The Best of Chuck Berry [MCA #2] 1997 MCA 2:24
Roots of Rock N' Roll, Set #1 1997 CRG
Wonderful Music of Chuck Berry 1998 Allegiance Records 2:25
Member's Edition 1998 AAO Music
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Chuck Berry 1999 MCA / Universal 2:24
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
Rock and Roll Dance Party [Magnum Collectors] 2000 Magnum Collectors 3:23
The Ultimate Collection [Universal] 2000 Universal International 2:25
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
Alive and Rockin' 2000 SRI Jazz
Greatest Hits of Rock 2001
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group 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
Rock N' Roll Classics 2001
Various Artists
AAO Music / United Audio Entertainment 2:25
Celebrate! 2002
Various Artists
Polygram 2:22
Crown Prince of Rock 'N Roll [2003] 2003 American Legends 3:21
Rock Rock Rock [Expanded] 2004 Chess 2:24
20 Great Tracks 2004 EMI 2:24
Rock N Roll: Gold Collection 2004
Various Artists
Dejavu Retro 3:21
No Image 2005 Legacy 2:24
Greatest Hits [ZYX] 2005 ZYX Music / ZYX 0:00
No Image 2005
Various Artists
SRI Jazz
Reelin' and Rockin': The Very Best of Chuck Berry 2006 Universal Distribution / Chess / Universal International 2:24
Hamburg Sound Beatles Beat und Grosse Freiheit 2006
Various Artists
Bear Family Records 2:23
The Definitive Collection 2006 Geffen / Chess 2:23
Kings of Rock & Roll 2006 Universal International 2:24
The Best of Chuck Berry [Direct Source] 2006 Direct Source 2:26
20th Century Masters: Best of 50s Rock N Roll, Vol. 2 2006
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 2:25
Kings of Rock 'N' Roll 2006 Spectrum Music 2:24
Hits of the 50's: The Ultimate Collection 2007
Various Artists
Red Box 2:25
Heartbreak Hotel [Essential Gold] 2007
Various Artists
Dynamic 2:23
Ultimate Chuck Berry 2007 UMVD 2:23
Maybellene [Goldies] 2007 Golden Stars 2:24
Yow 2007
Yow
Primo Records 2:27
The Rock 'N' Roll Explosion: 120 Hits That Rocked the World 2007
Various Artists
Acrobat Music 2:24
Music for Rock 'N' Roll 2007
Various Artists
Universal International 2:23
The Best of Chuck Berry [Geffen] 2007 Geffen 2:20
Johnny B. Goode: His Complete '50s Chess Recordings 2007 Hip-o Select 2:44
The Ultimate Collection, Disc 1 2007 Spectrum Music 2:23
No Image 2008 Bell
No Image 2008
Various Artists
World Picture Records / ZYX / ZYX Music 2:24
World of Rock 'n Roll Legends 2008
Various Artists
ZYX Music 2:24
Rock 'N' Roll Legends 2008 Universal Distribution 2:24
Well Worn Grooves: Golden Oldies of the 50's 2008
Various Artists
Golden Stars 2:19
Chuck Berry Is on Top/St. Louis to Liverpool 2008 Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab 2:25
The Best of Chuck Berry [Not Now] 2009 Not Now Music 2:24
50s Jukebox Hits 2009
Various Artists
TIP Records / Dance Street 2:25
The Rock 'n Roll [Box Set] 2009
Various Artists
Music & Melody 2:01
Golden Oldies Forever: Best of the Best 2009
Various Artists
Luxury Multimedia 2:26
Johnny B. Goode: His Greatest Hits 2010 ZYX 2:37
Icon 2011 Chess / Geffen 2:24
The Pop Years: The 50s 2011
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 2:24
After School Session/Chuck Berry Is on Top 2011 Beat Goes On 2:25
Juke Box Jive: Essential Rock 'n' Roll 2011
Various Artists
Metro Select 2:25
The Cruisin' Story 1955-1960 2011
Various Artists
Not Now Music 2:24
The World's Biggest Jukebox Classics 2011
Various Artists
Worlds Biggest 2:25
Rocks 2011 Bear Family Records 2:24
No Image 2014
Various Artists
Labelle
The Complete Chess Singles As & Bs 1955-1961 2015 Acrobat Music 2:24
Greatest Hits [10Ten Media] 2016 10Ten Media / Zebralution
The Singles, Vol. 1 2017 Cayenne Records / Zebralution
20 Greatest Hits Black Tulip
21 Super Golden Oldies
Various Artists
Bescol
50 Favourites from the 50's
Various Artists
Gralin Music
Back in the USA: The Best of Chuck Berry Gralin Music
Beatles Beginnings, Vol. 8: The Quarrymen Repertoire
Various Artists
Rhythm & Blues 2:26
Dim Rock 'N' Roll, Vol. 1
Various Artists
Dim Collection
George Harrison's Jukebox: The Music That Inspired the Man Chrome Dreams 2:24
HL Heaven: 50 Collectors' Classics From a Legendary Label
Various Artists
Acrobat Music / Trapeze 2:26
In the 1950s Chrome Dreams 3:27
Inspiring the Beatles
Various Artists
Cherished Records
No Image
Various Artists
Labelle
Keep a Rockin'
Various Artists
Cherished Records
Maybellene [ABM] ABM 2:25
Original Hits From the 50s & 60s
Various Artists
10Ten Media / Zebralution
Original and Greatest Hits From the 50's and 60's
Various Artists
10Ten Media / Zebralution
No Image
Various Artists
Roulette Records 2:30
Rock 'n' Roll
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 2:23
No Image
Various Artists
Must Have Records
Rock 'n' Roll Hits [ZYX]
Various Artists
ZYX / ZYX Music 2:26
No Image
Various Artists
Must Have Records
No Image Pair
No Image
The Greatest R&B Hits of 1956, Vol. 1
Various Artists
Acrobat Music 2:24
No Image Chess
You Can't Catch Me Snapper 2:24