On this day in music history: May 21, 1955 – “Maybellene”, the debut single by Chuck Berry is recorded. Cut at Universal Recording Studios in Chicago, IL, Berry bases the tune on the traditional country song “Ida Red”. Chess Records co-founder Leonard Chess feels the name is “too rural” sounding and suggests changing the title to “Maybellene”. The songs then unusual hybrid of country & western and rhythm & blues supported by a big back beat along with its lyrical themes of fast cars and love gone wrong, is instantly appealing to black and white audiences alike. Released in July, the single is a huge hit right out of the gate, spending eleven weeks at number one on the Billboard Rhythm & Blues chart and peaking at number five on the Pop Best Sellers chart. “Maybellene” goes on to become one of the most influential songs in the history of rock & roll, inspiring dozens of cover versions. Chuck Berry’s original recording of “Maybellene” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1988.
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