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Roll Over Beethoven by Chuck Berry
Album: Chuck Berry Is On TopReleased: 1956Charted:
This song is about the rock 'n' roll craze that was taking over America. Beethoven and Tchikovsky were classical composers who were being bumped aside by rock. At the time, many critics dismissed rock music as a passing fad.
Berry was careful to write lyrics that told a coherent story, which in this case follows a young many as he pursues his favorite music. Berry also took care to deliver his lyrics clearly so a wider audience could understand them. This helped him avoid the fate of many Little Richard songs: more popular, but sanitized covers by Pat Boone.
The Beatles released a version of this in 1963. They played it at most of their early live shows.
This was used in the 1992 movie Beethoven, which is about a Saint Bernard.
The Electric Light Orchestra covered this in 1973, mixing in some of Beethoven's music. It was their biggest hit at the time, going to #6 in the UK and #42 in the US.
Iron Maiden spoofed this on their song "Roll Over Vic Vella," which was used as the B-side to the single for "From Now to Eternity" It's one of the few singles that featured a photograph of the band performing as cover art.
For a February 4, 1977 primetime special celebrating 25 years of American Bandstand
, Berry performed this song joined by Seals & Crofts, Gregg Allman, Junior Walker, Johnny Rivers, the Pointer Sisters, Charlie Daniels and Doc Severinsen. This was one of the first "all-star jams" that would later become commonplace. This performance served as a showcase for the musicians, who were introduced as they performed by Paul Williams