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Chuck Berry

Ryan Adams pays tribute to Chuck Berry: 'We are all swimming in his wake'

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Frazer Harrison/Getty Images; Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Ryan Adams has penned a heartfelt tribute to the late music legend Chuck Berry, whose rip-roaring songs about fast cars and young love left an indelible imprint on rock & roll as a whole and Adams in particular.

Two days after Berry’s death at age 90, Adams said in a statement to EW, “We are all swimming in his wake, any of us with guitars and smirks and winks for girls — and I especially owe him with my black Cadillac and my wooden walnut ES-355, and my tendency to side with the right hook less the nice guy bulls—. He made it feel right to be wrong. I’ll be forever grateful to this master of badassery.”

Adams, who recently released his 16th album, Prisoner, also recalled first hearing Berry like “Maybellene,” “Carol,” and “Nadine” in his youth.

“They were somehow an accepted form of musical danger that left me obsessed with a time and a world I would never quite touch fully — his mark were the bricks thrown through the closed storefront windows of small town USA’s dying Main Street,” Adams said.

He concluded with a reference to “Roll Over Beethoven,” Berry’s 1956 hit that served as a rock & roll call to arms: “What I would give to see Beethoven’s face now. Roll over, indeed.”

Read Adams’ full statement below.

From “Maybellene” to “Carol” to “Nadine,” my own Chuck Berry painted the geography of a fictional America riddled with sexual tension, fast cars, frustration, telephone operators, taxis, and a Cadillac.

I first heard heard these songs on the radio and on the heavy green record player at my grandparents’ house. They were somehow an accepted form of musical danger that left me obsessed with a time and a world I would never quite touch fully — his mark were the bricks thrown through the closed storefront windows of small town USA’s dying Main Street.

We are all swimming in his wake, any of us with guitars and smirks and winks for girls — and I especially owe him with my black Cadillac and my wooden walnut ES-355, and my tendency to side with the right hook less the nice guy bulls‑‑‑. He made it feel right to be wrong. I’ll be forever grateful to this master of badassery.

What I would give to see Beethoven’s face now. Roll over, indeed.

RIP Chuck Berry.

— With reporting by Kevin O’Donnell.

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