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Roll Over Beethoven

by

Chuck Berry



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

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. (thanks, Brett - Edmonton, Canada)
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. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Chuck Berry
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Comments (17):

On July 21st 1973, the Electric Light Orchestra performed "Roll Over Beethoven" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
Three months earlier on April 22nd, 1973 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #90; and the day after this appearance on 'Bandstand' the song would reached it's peak position, #42, and spent 16 weeks on the Top 100...
On March 15th, 1964 the Beatles' covered version of the song entered the Top 100 at position #79, it stayed on the chart for 4 weeks, peaking at #68...
And on August 8th, 1961 the Velaires' version entered the chart at #92, it reached #51 and spent 7 weeks on the Top 100...
In 1970 Jerry Lee Lewis, in a duet with Linda Gail Lewis (his sister), released his covered version, it peaked at #71 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart...
(All the above versions are on You Tube).
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
Roll over Beethoven isn't listed as a Beatles song on this site. Other Beatles' cover songs are listed as Beatles songs, but not this one.
- David, Philadelphia, PA
Having heard Chuck Berry's version, I now think it ties with the Beatles version for my favorite of Roll Over Beethoven.

Fact I just learned: The phrase "Early in the morning" is a reference to a song of the same name by singer and saxophonist Louis Jordan whose music was an influence on Berry.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
John Lennon: 'Chuck Berry is one of the all-time great poets, a rock poet you could call him. He was well advanced of his time lyric-wise. We all owe him a lot, including Dylan. I've loved everything he's ever done. He was in a different class from the other performers, he was in the tradition of the great blues artists but he really wrote his own stuff. I know [Little] Richard did, but Berry really wrote stuff, just the lyrics were fantastic, even though we didn't know what he was saying half the time'.
Beatles version of Roll Over Beethoven:
'Move on up, just, try for further... think I got it off the writer sitting down by the rhythm revue... she winks like a glowworm'.
Chuck Berry sings:
'Move on up just a trifle further... rolling arth-r-itis sitting down at a rhythm revue... wriggles like a glowworm'.
Nick Duckett
http://www.rhythmandbluesrecords.co.uk/
- Nick, london, United Kingdom
I vote for the Beatlesversion of this tune...
George took heed listening to Chuck Berry on an
early airplane flight, getting advice how to play it!He asked" how did you get that sound?"
- steve dotstar, los angeles, CA
Love dis song It's Good when The Beatles sing it, but it truly is a Chuck Berry origanal!
- Bianca Sanchez, Alburquerque, NM
Another awesome legend by Chuck :)
- Josh, Toronto
I have an MC5 cover single of this song! (Awesome!)
- Cyberpope, Richmond, Canada
Alvin Lee and Ten Years After did a live cover of this song(Anthology)and Little Sixteen,really rocks
- billy j, san antonio, TX
The guitar solos on this song are absolutely delicious! I love this song!
- Ian, Lethbridge, Canada
I love The Beatles version! It's so foot tapping. You go George Harrison!
- Vickie, Sydney, Australia
i have a version of this by the byrds, it's pretty good but too short.
- Jonathan, Stamford, CT
In their early club and dance hall days, Paul McCartney would sing lead on this song. When they recorded their second album, they gave it to George Harrison to sing, since he had not written any songs yet.
- Ken, Louisville, KY
Yeah ben! I completely agree with you! The ELO version is awesome! Love the Beatles' live version of it though, too! Might be my favorite! Never heard the original. Where can I find it?
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
ELO's version of this is awesome a must hear... the piano violins and everything in the songs makes it stand out... sends shivers down my spine when i hear it!!!
- Ben, Perth, Canada
Great live version by The Beatles! Thank you, Chuck!
- Mia, Elk River, MN
The Beatles' version of "Roll Over Beethoven" was a mild hit in Canada (B-side: "Please Mr. Postman") and was scheduled for a March 1964 release in the US -- until EMI in the UK told the US Capitol Records that the single to be released then would be "Can't Buy Me Love."
- Brad Wind, Miami, FL
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