Before even Elvis Pressly took to the proverbial throne as King, there was Chuck Berry. Known as the father of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Chuck Berry, has died at on Saturday the age of 90.

The man was one of the few visionaries that pioneered Rock ‘n’ Roll before it was even called Rock ‘n’ Roll. He is most known for his indelible guitar licks, brash self-confidence and memorable songs about cars, girls, and wild dance parties as much as anyone to define rock ’n’ roll’s potential and attitude in its early years.

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Born Charles Edward Anderson Berry aka “Chuckto his friends, on October 18, 1926 to a middle-class African-American family in St. Louis, Missouri, Berry had an interest in music from an early age and gave his first public performance at Sumner High School. While still a high school student he was convicted of armed robbery and was sent to a reformatory, where he was held from 1944 to 1947. After his release, Berry settled into married life and worked at an automobile assembly plant. Berry claimed on The Tonight Show he was influenced primarily by 1940s swing artist Louis Jordan. “The main guy was Louis Jordan. I wanted to sing like Nat Cole, with lyrics like Louis Jordan with the swing of Bennie Goodman with Charlie Christian on guitar, playing Carl Hogan’s riffs, with the soul of Muddy Waters.” By early 1953, influenced by the guitar riffs and showmanship techniques of the blues musician T-Bone Walker, Berry began performing with the Johnnie Johnson Trio. His break came when he traveled to Chicago in May 1955 and met Muddy Waters, who suggested he contact Leonard Chess, of Chess Records. With Chess he recorded “Maybellene”—Berry’s adaptation of the country song “Ida Red“—which sold over a million copies, reaching number one on Billboard magazine’s rhythm and blues chart. By the end of the 1950s, Berry was an established star with several hit records and film appearances and a lucrative touring career. He had also established his own St. Louis nightclub, Berry’s Club Bandstand. But in January 1962, he was sentenced to three years in prison for offenses under the Mann Act—he had transported a 14-year-old girl across state lines.

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After his release in 1963, Berry had more hits in the mid-1960s, including “No Particular Place to Go“, “You Never Can Tell“, and “Nadine”. By the mid-1970s, he was more in demand as a live performer, playing his past hits with local backup bands of variable quality.  In 1979 he served 120 days in prison for tax evasion.

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Berry was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986; he was cited for having “laid the groundwork for not only a rock and roll sound but a rock and roll stance.” Berry is included in several of Rolling Stone magazine’s “greatest of all time” lists; he was ranked fifth on its 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame‘s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll includes three of Berry’s: “Johnny B. Goode“, “Maybellene“, and “Rock and Roll Music“.Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” is the only rock-and-roll song included on the Voyager Golden Record.

He, to me, basically PIONEERED the genre.

According to NY TIMES: In Mr. Berry’s groundbreaking early songs, his guitar twangs his famous two-stringed lick. It also punches like a horn section and sasses back at his own voice. The drummer eagerly socks the backbeat, and the pianist — usually either Mr. Johnson or Lafayette Leake — hurls fistfuls of tinkling anarchy all around him.

While I wasn’t born at the height of his era, it was thanks to the Back to the Future film that got me interested in music of all kinds.

Unfortunately, you’ll never be able to get me intetested in rap in all of it’s forms.

As for Mr. Chuck Berry, may you rest in peace.  You will be missed!

 

Author: Richard R for RaccoonTV

Reacting to sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5

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