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Rewinding the Charts: In 1972, Chuck Berry Took His 'Ding-a-Ling' to No. 1
Berry onstage in Amsterdam in 1973The rock‘n’roll legend’s only Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper was a bawdy novelty song that, unlike his other hits, he didn’t write.
CHUCK BERRY WROTE HIS most recognizable hits, but it was a cover — one full of double entendres about masturbation, no less — that shot the rock’n’roll legend to his first and only No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972.
Originally written and recorded by Dave Bartholomew in 1952, “My Ding-a-Ling” first surfaced in the Berry canon in 1968 as “My Tambourine” with key lyric changes. (“I want to play with my ding-a-ling” became “I do like to shake my tambourine,” for instance.) When he played the song live, however, Berry slipped in his own racy lyrics, and one of those performances was included on his 1972 hybrid album of studio and live tracks, The London Chuck Berry Sessions.
Berry had been landing self-penned hits on Billboard’s charts since the mid-1950s, including “Johnny B. Goode,” “Rock and Roll Music” and “Roll Over Beethoven,” although each of those songs was released — and rose to popularity — before the launch of the Hot 100 in August 1958.