Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "My Ding-a-Ling" by Chuck Berry

As you probably heard, rock and roll legend Chuck Berry died on Saturday at the ripe old age of 90.  To call him one of the most important and influential people in the history of rock and roll would be an understatement.  He was the first African-American rock and roll artist to truly cross over into the mainstream.  He was really the first rock and roller that realized teenagers were the ones buying rock music, so he should at least have some songs that cater to them and talk about teenage issues ("School Days," "Sweet Little Sixteen").  More importantly, he was the first guitar god of rock and roll, bringing the electric guitar from an accompanying instrument to the forefront, and inspiring generations of future guitar legends.

I could go on all day lauding Berry and his influence, but I'll let you read his Wikipedia page if you want to learn more about his up-and-down life and career.  Even though none of his songs technically fit within the temporal parameters of Retro Video of the Week, I would feel like a boob if I didn't feature a Chuck Berry song this week.

I'm going with one of his later hits, "My Ding-a-Ling," a hilarious novelty song full of double entendre that hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (as well as on the UK and Canadian pop charts) in 1972.  This was on a Chuck Berry tape I had when I was a kid, and I thought it was hilarious then, just as I do know.  It paved the way for Aerosmith's cover of "Big Ten Inch Record," The Who's "Squeeze Box," AC/DC's "Big Balls," and, more locally for me, Linsey Alexander's "Two Cats" (which I've heard live, but apparently hasn't been officially released yet).

Here's a live version of "My Ding-a-Ling" from 1972, which is the version that was on the tape I had. At over ten minutes, it's long, but well worth the watch, as Berry speaks to the audience about the song before he starts into it.

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