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The Great Twenty-Eight

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Editors’ Notes

A man of Chuck Berry’s stature—who came of age in the early rock ’n’ roll era, before albums became the chief format—has been represented by countless anthologies of his classic work. It’s a personal decision just how deep you wish to search, and "complete" collections are generally too much for more casual listeners who prefer a highlight reel. The Great Twenty-Eight was considered the gold standard by Berry fans. It covers Berry’s first nine years and makes no half-hearted attempt to insist that his later years matched his seminal work in the '50s and early ‘60s. Elvis Presley may have been The King, but Berry was the definition of rock ’n’ roll. His guitar style was imitated by Keith Richards and all who followed him, and Berry’s songwriting was literate and witty, making him troublesome for many white middle-class families in the grey-flannel ‘50s. “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” “Sweet Little Sixteen,” “Sweet Little Rock ’n’ Roller,” “Little Queenie,” “Carol,” “Nadine,” “Back in the USA”: Berry sang about love, lust, and the American Dream like few before or since.


Born: October 18, 1926 in St. Louis, MO

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Of all the early breakthrough rock & roll artists, none is more important to the development of the music than Chuck Berry. He is its greatest songwriter, the main shaper of its instrumental voice, one of its greatest guitarists, and one of its greatest performers. Quite simply, without him there would be no Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, nor a myriad others. There would be no standard "Chuck Berry guitar intro," the instrument's clarion call to get the joint rockin' in any setting....
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