chuck berry obituary

The original rock God has died.

Chuck Berry, the rock & roll innovator whose style influenced thousands of artists from the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Prince and countless more died Saturday. He was 90.

Berry was born Charles Edward Anderson Berry in St. Louis, Missouri in 1926 and celebrated his 90th birthday last year by announcing a self-titled album, Chuck. When his career began in erstwhile, he continued to play clubs around St. Louis, eager for his big break. In 1955, Berry would venture to Chicago and record a version of “Ida Red” for the burgeoning Chess label. Bery’s version was retitled “Maybellene”.

It was Berry’s first big hit. Subsequent songs that would further shape the sound of rock & roll would follow including Berry’s signature, “Johnny B. Goode.” He toured frequently and appeared in feature films such as Rock! Rock! Rock!. In the 1985 film Back To The Future, Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” is introduced to an unsuspecting crowd of white teenagers in 1955, further signifying Berry’s longterm influence over the genre and others.

Controversy followed Berry’s career. In 1959 he was arrested for transporting a minor across state lines, a violation of the Mann Act. He went to prison for charges related to the arrest in 1962. Following his release, he added more hits to his collection with “No Particular Place To Go” and “You Never Can Tell”. In 1972, Berry scored his only No. 1 single on the Billboard charts with “My Ding-A-Ling.”

Known for his more than prickly personality, Berry’s influence on American music cannot be questioned. He routinely scolded other guitarists such as Keith Richards & Eric Clapton in regards to how to play his music.

In 1986, Berry was part of the inaugural class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Despite his accelerating age, Berry continued to hit road; the same vigor and enthusiasm for the craft never leaving him.

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