||'Johnny B. Goode' Awarded Degree
By Associated Press
May 14, 2002, 6:19 AM EDT
FAIRMONT, W.Va. -- Johnnie Johnson created memorable lyrics in collaboration with Chuck Berry, but words left the blues pianist after he received an honorary college degree.
"You are now looking at a man who is at a loss for words. I cannot find the words to express the way that I feel right now," Johnson said Saturday at Fairmont State College's commencement.
"This is more than I could ever explain," said Johnson, who was given an honorary doctorate in music.
Born July 8, 1924, in Fairmont, Johnson was the son of a coal miner. He taught himself how to play the piano, absorbing the sounds of big-band jazz, swing and country-western that he heard on the radio.
He later formed a band called the Johnnie Johnson Trio, which Berry joined in 1952. In 1955, Johnson let Berry take over the band but continued to write and perform with him. Together they created "Roll Over Beethoven," "Sweet Little Sixteen" and other tunes.
Berry wrote "Johnny B. Goode" as a tribute to Johnson, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.