Rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry died on Saturday at the age of 90. But, thanks to NASA, his music can still be heard in the heavens.
That’s because, as NASA reminded us, Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” was once blasted into space for all the galaxy to hear.
— NASA (@NASA) March 19, 2017
In 1977, NASA launched Voyager 1, a mission to study the outer solar system. Just in case the spacecraft ever encountered any other alien life form, scientists thought it best to include a disc of earth culture, including plenty of music. And it included Berry’s jam.
The disc was called the “Golden record,” and it featured music from Bach and Mozart, a chant by Navajo Indians, a Peruvian wedding song, and Berry’s most famous tune. The disc also included a hello from President Jimmy Carter and greetings in 50 different languages.
But Carl Sagan, the man who curated the disc for Voyager, had to respond to criticism for including a rock song because it was thought by some at the time that this genre of music was too adolescent for other life forms to hear (apparently, there was no counter-argument that aliens who are busy rocking out are aliens who are unlikely to attack another planet).
Responded Sagan, via the Independent: “There are a lot of adolescents on the planet.”
And this is what Sagan had to say in a letter to Berry on the occasion of the guitarist’s 60th birthday.
Voyager I crossed the threshold into interstellar space in 2012. That means that even in death, Berry’s legacy is forever known on this planet—and perhaps in all the worlds beyond.