With his death over the weekend, the world mourns the passing off the pioneer of rock and roll, but the universe will be shaking its hips to his sounds for a long, long time.
Chuck Berry will live forever in the stars
— NASA (@NASA) March 19, 2017
On Saturday, March 18, the world lost the legend that was Chuck Berry. Along with being the pioneer that helped bring us rock and roll, he has also inspired musicians from every decade since – be it, The Rolling Stones or the Ramones – and that means his legacy here on Earth will live on for the foreseeable future.
But, Chuck Berry’s music, which is his legacy, will live on for billion years, even if mankind isn’t around for that long.
In 1977, NASA made sure that would be the case when it launched Voyager 1. The spacecraft was prepped for a long flight, which also included a disc of culture, called the “Voyager Golden Record” (for obvious reasons).
The discs (as, for safekeeping, there was more than one copy aboard the Voyager) included, among others, music composed by Igor Stravinsky, Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but also Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” – that was composed and performed by the latter, not Marty McFly, unlike in some cinematic alternate timelines.
Carl Sagan played his part
Speaking of alternate timelines, it was the astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan who not only curated the record but also let Berry know that “Johnny B. Goode” would be sent to the stars – all on the latter’s 60th birthday, no less.
When they tell you your music will live forever, you can usually be sure they’re exaggerating. But “Johnny B. Goode” is on the Voyager interstellar records attached to NASA’s Voyager spacecraft – now two billion miles from Earth and bound for the stars. These records will last a billion years or more.
At the time, some Sagan’s choices were somewhat controversial, thanks to the inclusion of Berry and even the Beatles. While the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” wasn’t included (due to EMI not releasing it to NASA), Sagan stood by his choice of “Johnny B. Goode”, as he wanted adolescents to be represented. It could also be argued that the visionary humanitarian just had great taste in music, too.
In hindsight, NASA could have named the spacecraft after “Johnny B. Goode”, as Voyager is still going, having reached interstellar space in 2012.
Chuck’s relationship with weed
Back in early summer of 1990, Berry was charged with a misdemeanor and had to serve two years of probation after cops raided his house and found more than an ounce of weed as well as a bit of hash, a few guns and a shit-load of porn and cash.
However, at the time Berry insisted that “has not (used) and does not use or possess marijuana or cocaine,” even though he was found with 35 grams when he was raided.
He also has a strain named after him, that’s described as “sweet and loud Indica dominant hybrid that’s relaxing effects come on soft yet hard,” kind of like the man himself.
Go, Johnny, go!