Chuck Berry dies Voyager 1

Photo via NBC Television/Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Even in death, Chuck Berry’s music is still rocking hard somewhere in interstellar space

Chuck Berry's music has been immortalized in space.


Josh Katzowitz

Internet Culture

Posted on Mar 19, 2017   Updated on May 24, 2021, 8:19 pm CDT

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.

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.

The letter Carl Sagan wrote to Chuck Berry for Berry’s 60th birthday
by inAstronomy

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.

H/T Quartz

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*First Published: Mar 19, 2017, 11:09 am CDT