Close menu

Johnny B. Goode

Updated: 2017-02-21T19:20Z
For the posthumous live album by Jimi Hendrix, see Johnny B. Goode (album).
"Johnny B. Goode"
Chuck berry - johnny b goode - record label.jpg
Single by Chuck Berry
from the album Chuck Berry Is on Top
B-side"Around & Around"
ReleasedMarch 31, 1958
Format7" 45 RPM, 10" 78 RPM
RecordedJanuary 6, 1958, Chess Studios, Chicago, Illinois
GenreRock and roll
Writer(s)Chuck Berry
Producer(s)Little "Bongo" Kraus
Chuck Berry singles chronology
"Sweet Little Sixteen"
"Johnny B. Goode"
"Beautiful Delilah"
Music sample
File:Chuck Berry - Johnny B. Goode.ogg

"Johnny B. Goode" is a 1958 rock-and-roll song written and first recorded by Chuck Berry. The song was a major hit among both black and white audiences, peaking at number 2 on Billboard magazine's Hot R&B Sides chart and number 8 on its Hot 100 chart.[1]

The song is one of Berry's most famous. It has been recorded by many other artists and has received several honors and accolades. It is also considered one of the most recognizable songs in music history. The song is ranked as number seven on Rolling Stone's list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time".[2]

Composition and recording

Written by Berry in 1955, the song is about an illiterate "country boy" who plays a guitar "just like ringing a bell," and who might one day have his "name in lights."[3] Berry has acknowledged that the song is partly autobiographical and that the original lyrics referred to Johnny as a "colored boy", but he changed it to "country boy" to ensure radio play.[4] As well as suggesting that the guitar player is good, the title hints at autobiographic elements, because Berry was born at 2520 Goode Avenue, in St. Louis.[3] The song was initially inspired by Johnnie Johnson, the regular piano player in Berry's band,[5][6] but developed into a song mainly about Berry himself. Johnson played on many other recordings by Berry, but Lafayette Leake played the piano on this song.[3]

The opening guitar riff of "Johnny B. Goode" is essentially a note-for-note copy of the opening single-note solo on Louis Jordan's "Ain't That Just Like a Woman" (1946), played by guitarist Carl Hogan.[7] Neither the guitar intro nor the solo are played at once. Berry played the introductory parts together with the rhythm guitar and later overdubbed the solo runs.[8]

Berry has written three more songs involving the character Johnny B. Goode, "Bye Bye Johnny", "Go Go Go", and "Johnny B. Blues"; and titled an album, and the nearly 19 min instrumental title track from it, as "Concerto in B. Goode".


In popular culture


The use of Johnny B. Goode in the 1973 coming-of-age comedy-drama American Graffiti resurrected the song popularity, it was used in one of the main scenes of the film.[9]

Berry's recording of the song was included on the Voyager Golden Record, attached to the Voyager spacecraft as representing rock and roll, one of four American songs included among many cultural achievements of humanity.

When Chuck Berry was inducted into the first Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on January 23, 1986, he performed "Johnny B. Goode" and "Rock and Roll Music", backed by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.[10] The Hall of Fame included these songs and "Maybellene" in their list of the 500 songs that shaped Rock and Roll.[11] It was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999, for its influence as a rock and roll single.[12]

In the 1984 film Threads, the song is heard three times. The first time is when core characters Ruth Beckett and Jimmy Kemp discuss the future of their relationship before the outbreak of nuclear war, in his car overlooking Sheffield. The second time is when Jimmy is at a pub, drinking with his mate. The last time is fourteen years after the nuclear holocaust, as Ruth and Jimmy's daughter Jane, heavily pregnant, struggles to find a hospital in which to give birth. The song seems to be emanating from a nightclub, pub or brothel within the devastated post-apocalyptic town.

In the 1985 film Back to the Future, Marty McFly performs the song with the fictional band Marvin Berry and the Starlighters during the "Enchantment Under the Sea" high school dance, set in November 1955.[13] Mark Campbell (of Jack Mack and the Heart Attack fame) sang the vocals and Tim May played the guitar, with Michael J. Fox shown miming to both. This scene was revisited in Back to the Future Part II (1989). During Marty's rendition of the song, Marvin telephones his cousin Chuck, to have him hear what might be the "new sound" Chuck is looking for.

During his time in World Championship Wrestling, Marc Mero wrestled under the ring name Johnny B. Badd, an homage to the song.

This song plays whenever Calgary Flames player Johnny Gaudreau scores, as well as Tampa Bay Lightning's Tyler Johnson.


ListPublisherRankYear of publication
500 Greatest Songs of All TimeRolling Stone72010
100 Greatest Guitar TracksQ422005
100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All TimeRolling Stone12008
Top 3000 SongsAcclaimed Music6N/A
500 Songs That Shaped RockRock and Roll Hall of FameN/A1995
50 Greatest Guitar SolosGuitar World122009

Cover versions

"Johnny Be Good"
Johnny b.goode.jpg
Single by Judas Priest
from the album Ram It Down
B-side"Rock You All Around the World" (live)
Format7" 45 RPM, 12" maxi
GenreHeavy metal
Writer(s)Chuck Berry
Producer(s)Tom Allom, Glenn Tipton, K. K. Downing, Rob Halford
Judas Priest singles chronology
"Ram It Down/Heavy Metal"
"Johnny Be Good"

The song has been recorded by a wide variety of artists in different genres.

Country musician Buck Owens's version of "Johnny B. Goode" topped Billboard magazine's Hot Country Sides chart in 1969.[14]

Jimi Hendrix had a posthumous hit with "Johnny B. Goode", which peaked at number 35 on the UK Singles Chart in 1972[15] and number 13 on the New Zealand Top 50 in 1986.[16]

Leif Garrett released a version of the song on his 1977 album, Leif Garrett.[17]

Peter Tosh's version of the song peaked at number 84 on the Billboard Hot 100,[18] number 48 on the UK Singles Chart,[19] number 10 in the Netherlands, and number 29 in New Zealand in 1983.[20]

Judas Priest's version reached number 64 on the UK Singles Chart in 1988.[15]

The Beatles' version

"Johnny B. Goode"
Song by The Beatles from the album Live at the BBC
Released30 November 1994 (UK)
5 December 1994 (US)
Recorded7 January 1964, Playhouse Theatre, London, for the BBC radio show Saturday Club
Writer(s)Chuck Berry
Producer(s)Bernie Andrews[21]

The Beatles recorded their version of the song on 7 January 1964 at the Playhouse Theatre in London for the BBC radio show Saturday Club. Chuck Berry was a favorite among the Beatles. They had previously and subsequently recorded versions of other songs by Berry, including "Roll Over Beethoven", released on the album With the Beatles in 1963, and "Rock and Roll Music", released on Beatles for Sale in 1964, and several others that subsequently were released on Live at the BBC.[21]


Adapted from The Beatles Bible[21]

Other songs

Leo Sayer included "The Last Gig of Johnny B. Goode", a song about a fallen rock star, on his 1975 album, Another Year.


  1. ^ "Charts & Awards: Chuck Berry – Billboard Singles". AllMusic. Rovi. Retrieved February 1, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time". Rolling Stone. April 2010. Retrieved September 18, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Taylor, Timothy D. (2000). "Chapter 7 – His Name Was in Lights: Chuck Berry's 'Johnny B. Goode'". In Middleton, Richard. Reading Pop: Approaches to Textual Analysis in Popular Music. Oxford University Press. pp. 165–167, 177. ISBN 0-19-816611-7.  delete character in |chapter= at position 51 (help)
  4. ^ "Johnny B. Goode : Rolling Stone". Archived from the original on December 28, 2006. Retrieved February 21, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Johnny Johnson". Blues Music Now. Retrieved February 21, 2010. 
  6. ^ Ratliff, Ben (April 14, 2005). "Johnnie Johnson, 80, Dies; Inspired 'Johnny B. Goode'". New York Times. Retrieved February 21, 2010. 
  7. ^ Miller, James (1999). Flowers in the Dustbin: The Rise of Rock and Roll, 1947–1977. Simon & Schuster. p. 104. ISBN 0-684-80873-0.
  8. ^ Dietmar Rudolph. "Johnny B. Goode take 3 isn't - I mean take 3 - The Chuck Berry Collectors Blog". Retrieved 2016-08-29. 
  9. ^ "The 50 greatest film soundtracks". The Guardian. 18 March 2007. Retrieved 23 November 2016. 
  10. ^ Barker, Derek (2009). Liner notes to Bruce Springsteen's Jukebox: The Songs that Inspired the Man [CD]. Chrome Dreams.
  11. ^ "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll by Artists (A-C)". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on May 24, 2007. 
  12. ^ "Grammy Hall of Fame – Past Recipients (Letter J)". The Grammy Awards. United States: National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved February 1, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Chuck Berry Johnny B Goode". Blues Guitar Expert. 2015-02-26. Retrieved 2015-07-14. 
  14. ^ "Charts & Awards: Buck Owens – Billboard Singles". Allmusic. United States: Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 1, 2011. 
  15. ^ a b "Johnny B. Goode - Full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  16. ^ ""Johnny B. Goode" by Jimi Hendrix" (ASP). New Zealand Top 50 Singles. Hung Medien. Retrieved February 1, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Leif Garrett, Leif Garrett". Retrieved December 16, 2016. 
  18. ^ "Charts & Awards: Peter Tosh – Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Rovi. Retrieved February 1, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Peter Tosh: Full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  20. ^ ""Johnny B. Goode" by Peter Tosh" (ASP). australian-charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved February 1, 2011. 
  21. ^ a b c "The Beatles Bible: Johnny B Goode". Retrieved May 21, 2016. 
Preceded by
"I Love You More Today"
by Conway Twitty
Billboard Hot Country Singles
number-one single
(Buck Owens and the Buckaroos version)

July 26 – August 2, 1969
Succeeded by
"All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)"
by Charley Pride
Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Wikipedia is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.

Also On Wow