In The Number Ones, I’m reviewing every single #1 single in the background of the Billboard Hot 100, beginning with the chart’s beginning, in 1958, and also working my method up right into the present.

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One week in the autumn of 1972, 2 of the aging legends of ’50s rock ‘n’ roll organized down the two peak spots on the Billboard hot 100. A 46-year-old lining Berry — the cunning devil, the unsentimental mercenary, the real creep, the guy with as great a claim on inventing rock ‘n’ role as anyone who ever lived — was in the #1 spot v a godawful novelty song around his dick. In among the all-time great trivial absurdities of chart history, that track happens to be the just #1 solitary of Berry’s career. “My Ding-A-Ling” was #1 for two weeks, and also during the second of those weeks, Berry’s contemporaries kept him company.

That same week, the 37-year-old Elvis Presley to be at #2 v the unapologetically hammy country-soul workout “Burning Love.” (It’s a 7.) and a couple of spots down at #7, 32-year-old stack (formerly Ricky) Nelson and his rock Canyon Band verified up through their twangy ramble “Garden Party” — i beg your pardon namechecked Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode,” a song that had peaked at #8 in the pre-Hot 100 days of 1958. (“Garden Party” would ultimately climb approximately #3, and also it’s another 7.) the 1972 week to be 14 year after Nelson had actually the trivial difference of coming to be the male with the first-ever #1 song on the Billboard warm 100. A lot of had changed in those 14 years. Berry, Presley, and also Nelson were in there with the Moody Blues, invoice Withers, Curtis Mayfield, and Michael Jackson. And also none of those three guys sounded the means they had in the ’50s. Yet it expected something that all three of them to be in there.

I don’t know whether it started with that week in 1972, but the ’70s to be absolutely lousy through ’50s nostalgia: American Graffiti, Happy Days, Grease. You could even argue that the early-days version of punk rock to be at least partially informed by a slightly less kitschy variation of ’50s nostalgia. The music the the era was increasingly complex, and so was the civilization in general. Meanwhile, the baby Boomers had mostly to let go the at an early stage rock ‘n’ roll days, or they’d proficient those days as small kids, therefore they hadn’t acquired the full effect. Probably they were celebrating a past that was recent but likewise somehow distant.

But perhaps I’m simply making excuses for the record-buying public. Due to the fact that that record-buying publicly bought a totality lot of duplicates of “My Ding-A-Ling,” and “My Ding-A-Ling” is fucking garbage.


Chuck Berry to be a actual innovator, and also he was likewise a showman and also a huckster. By the moment of the rock ‘n’ role explosion, Berry was already a grown man, one who’d spent years in jail for armed robbery and then operated for year on a vehicle assembly line. He’d come increase in St. Louis, fusing the twang of country music with the groove that blues and also developing an electric-shock guitar-lead format that still sounds pretty remarkable today. Berry do hits, and “Sweet small Sixteen” got to #2 in 1957, but he never climbed to the peak spot. And in 1959, Berry was arrested for moving a 14-year-old girl across state lines, the sort of thing that renders “Sweet small Sixteen” sound a entirety lot much less cute. Berry was in and out of jail for a few years after that, and the hits largely dried up. (Berry did acquire to #10 with 1964’s “No details Place come Go.” It’s an 8.)

But if Berry wasn’t making struggle records, he was doing simply fine on the road. The stars the the ’60s all revered Berry. They speak him up in interviews and also sometimes played shows with him. And also all the children who hadn’t gotten to watch Berry as soon as his layout was new got their chance in the years the followed. Berry toured tirelessly, and he had actually a singular and also mythic method of doing things.

Berry wouldn’t tour through a backing band. Instead, the local promoter would have to put a band together. Those musician would have to learn all of Berry’s song as ideal they can beforehand. Berry would certainly pull increase in a rented Cadillac v his guitar. Typically, that wouldn’t lug anyone v him. He’d obtain paid in cash up-front, and then he’d run onstage. The wouldn’t rehearse or also soundcheck v the band. If the didn’t prefer the way one of the backing musicians to be playing, he’d fire the mid-show. A lot of the time, the backup musicians wouldn’t also get to meet Berry; he’d leaving as quickly as the stepped offstage.

One night in February of 1972, Berry remained in the UK city of Coventry come play the Lanchester arts Festival. At that festival, he play alongside Pink Floyd, Billy Preston, Slade, and George Carlin — a weird, great bill. The night, Berry’s backing tape was a an excellent one. Guitarist Onnie McIntyre and also drummer Robbie McIntosh would go on to type Scottish funk unit average White Band later on that year, and bassist Nic Potter was already playing in the cult-favorite prog team Van Der Graaf Generator. (Average White band will show up in this tower eventually. Valve Der Graaf Generator will not.) few of Berry’s set from that present ended up on his album The London lining Berry Sessions, and at the finish of “Johnny B. Goode,” you have the right to hear the promoter begging the group to leave since the Pink Floyd show’s an alleged to start in 15 minutes.

One that the song Berry played the night to be “My Ding-A-Ling,” which Berry referred to as “a fourth-grade ditty” when he was introducing it. The wasn’t kidding about that. (You deserve to hear the on the album version of “My Ding-A-Ling,” which operation — ns swear to fucking God — 11 excruciating minutes.) “My Ding-A-Ling” is, rather obviously, prolonged dick joke of a song: “Mother took me to grammar school / however I stopped off in the vestibule / Every time that bell would ring / catch me playing through my ding-a-ling.” It’s the stupidest fucking thing. Berry sings it favor he’s gaining away with something. And somehow, an edited live variation of this song, from the festival in Coventry, came to be Berry’s sole #1 hit.

The new Orleans bandleader Dave Bartholomew had written and recorded “My Ding-A-Ling” in 1952, and different version of it had been going roughly since then. Berry himself had actually recorded a slightly-more-tasteful version called “My Tambourine” in 1968. Yet that night in Coventry, the went full ding-a-ling, acquiring the group to sing along as loudly as possible. He ad-libs like a game-show organize or a vaudeville comedian, ad-libbing a whole new verse around how, if you’re no singing along, you’re playing with your own ding-a-ling. Real high-concept stuff.

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On the record, Berry is plainly having a blast. In this Guardian piece, the writer Greg Freeman, that was there the night, cases that a baffled crowd was just humoring Berry, however it sound to me prefer they’re having actually a good time, too. It’s not that hard to recognize the very nice one of joining in with a absent ‘n’ roll legend on a giant, silly singalong around dicks. The record, however, is a whole other thing. The is a funny vacuum, a dirty joke that goes on too long and also wasn’t funny in the first place. Berry was always proud that “My Ding-A-Ling” and also the money he made for recording it. Yet I can’t hear it without going right into a deep, pains inward cringe.

GRADE: 1/10

BONUS BEATS: Here’s the minute from a 1991 Simpsons track where a boy tries to song “My Ding-A-Ling” in ~ a institution talent show:


BONUS BONUS BEATS: Here’s the variation of “My Ding-A-Ling” the Busta Rhymes’ old group Leaders of The brand-new School contained on the 1991 album A Future there is no A Past: