Sunday, March 19, 2017

Chuck Berry may be gone but his "Maybellene" will live on in Rock n Roll Fame

Chuck Berry, Rock ’n’ Roll Pioneer, Dies at 90 click The New York Times



How Chuck Berry's "Maybellene" got it's name

In a fairly new book: The Third Coast When Chicago Built the American Dream, Thomas Dyja, describes how Chuck Berry's hit song "Maybellene" came about...However, as described in my book, "The Maybelline Story," Chuck Berry or his attorney, contacted Tom Lyle Williams, founder and owner of the Maybelline Company and asked for permission to use the spelling. Tom Lyle said no, so the spelling was changed to protect Berry from further disputes. Here is how the idea for "Maybelline" came about in 1955.

Chuck Berry’s "Maybellene" was taken from the country song "Ida Red", as recorded by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys in 1938.  In 1955 Berry brought his version of Ida Red, to Chess Records which he had renamed "Ida May."  Leonard Chess  was enthusiastic about the commercial possibilities in a “hillbilly song sung by a black man, but he thought the title Ida May,  was “too rural”
Spotting a mascara box on the floor of the studio, Chess said, “Well, hell, let’s name the damn thing Maybellene” altering the spelling to avoid a suit by the cosmetic company. “The kids wanted the big beat, cars and young love,”  “It was the trend and taking old recordings and modifying them, by changing the instrumentals and the lyrics was a common practice in the 1950s.

The lyrics struck a chord with teenagers fascinated by cars, speed and sexuality. "Maybellene” became one of the first records to score big on rhythm and blues, country and western, and pop charts. Featuring some inimitable Chuck Berry riffs, some blues-style picking on a country guitar and Johnson’s piano, which added rhythm to the steady back beat, "Maybellene" was a pivotal song in the emergence of rock 'n' roll. This exciting fusion of a rhythm and blues beat with a rural country style was the catalyst for the type of rock 'n' roll that emerged in the mid-1950s.
Read more about it and so much more in The Maybelline Story, buy a signed copy from me. Now listen to the book, on audible books from Amazon.

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