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Crazy Don

RIP Chuck Berry.

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One of the founders of rock. The music is undeniable, but his story is a tough one to tell. He went to jail for transporting a 14-year-old across state lines, an event that, depending on your perspective, either exposed his turpitude or unfairly incarcerated him in a racist railroading. He spent at least a decade denying that he ever went to jail, just one of many obfuscations he delivered in the few interviews he did.

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This one hurt plenty, age be damned. Chuck was my first love, my first idol. My Dad bought me my first record, Chuck's "Reelin' 'n Rockin". I was 5 years old. I heard the opening riff of "Johnny B. Goode" and it was all over for me. I felt like I had been plugged in. My parents record collection included Harry Belafonte, and growing up around the Windsor Detroit area, the Big 8, CKLW played the greatest music. At 4 to 5 years old, I knew a couple things. Somehow I knew Otis Redding and Booker T were connected (same band), and Black people made the music I liked. I grew up in the *whitest* Canadian suburb imaginable. I didn't know any black people outside of what I saw on record albums or what I heard on the radio. And Chuck Berry was a *GOD* to me. In school, Kindergarden to grade 1 and 2, the other kids were pretty fast and loose with the "N-word". And it always conflicted me. I wanted to fit in, but the comments were that "they" like fried chicken. It was my favorite meal. "They" liked watermelon. Me too. And I couldn't understand (I was 5, think like a 5 year old) "don't these guys get it? That music is...... I dunno. The best music I've ever heard". Still, to this day. Like Seger says, "All Chuck's children are out there, playin' his licks". I credit my parents for making me who I am. And Chuck Berry. Thanks for the music Chuck. I will love you forever.

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