Berry in 1957
Charles Edward Anderson Berry
October 18, 1926
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||March 18, 2017 90) (aged|
Wentzville, Missouri, U.S.
|Other names||Father of Rock N' Roll|
|Genres||Rock and roll|
Charles Edward Anderson Berry (October 18, 1926 – March 18, 2017) was an American singer and songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. With songs such as "Maybellene" (1955), "Roll Over Beethoven" (1956), "Rock and Roll Music" (1957) and "Johnny B. Goode" (1958), Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive. Writing lyrics that focused on teen life and consumerism, and developing a music style that included guitar solos and showmanship, Berry was a major influence on subsequent rock music.
Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s from musical styles such as gospel, jump blues, jazz, boogie woogie, and rhythm and blues, along with country music. While elements of what was to become rock and roll can be heard in blues records from the 1920s and in country records of the 1930s, the genre did not acquire its name until 1954.
"Maybellene" was one of the first rock and roll songs. It was written and recorded in 1955 by Chuck Berry, adapted in part from the Western swing fiddle tune "Ida Red". Berry's song told the story of a hot rod race and a broken romance, the lyrics describing a man driving a V8 Ford and chasing his unfaithful girlfriend in her Cadillac Coupe DeVille. It was released in July 1955 as a single by Chess Records, of Chicago, Illinois. Berry's first single and his first hit, "Maybellene" is considered a pioneering rock and roll song. Rolling Stone magazine wrote of it, "Rock & roll guitar starts here." The record was an early instance of the complete rock and roll package: youthful subject matter; a small, guitar-driven combo; clear diction; and an atmosphere of unrelenting excitement.
"Roll Over Beethoven" is a 1956 hit single written by Chuck Berry, originally released on Chess Records, with "Drifting Heart" as the B-side. The lyrics of the song mention rock and roll and the desire for rhythm and blues to replace classical music. The title of the song is an imperative directed at the composer Ludwig van Beethoven to roll over in his grave in reaction to the new genre of music that Berry was promoting. The song has been covered by many other artists, including the Beatles and the Electric Light Orchestra. Rolling Stone magazine ranked it number 97 on its list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time".
Born into 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. 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. However, he was sentenced to three years in prison in January 1962 for offenses under the Mann Act—he had transported a 14-year-old girl across state lines. After his release in 1963, Berry had several more hits, including "No Particular Place to Go", "You Never Can Tell", and "Nadine". But these did not achieve the same success, or lasting impact, of his 1950s songs, and by the 1970s he was more in demand as a nostalgic performer, playing his past hits with local backup bands of variable quality. However, in 1972 he reached a new level of achievement when a rendition of "My Ding-a-Ling" became his only record to top the charts. His insistence on being paid in cash led in 1979 to a four-month jail sentence and community service, for tax evasion.
St. Louis is a major independent city and inland port in the U.S. state of Missouri. It is situated along the western bank of the Mississippi River, which marks Missouri's border with Illinois. The Missouri River merges with the Mississippi River just north of the city. These two rivers combined form the fourth longest river system in the world. The city had an estimated 2018 population of 302,838 and is the cultural and economic center of the St. Louis metropolitan area, which is the largest metropolitan area in Missouri, and the 20th-largest in the United States.
Missouri is a state in the Midwestern United States. With over six million residents, it is the 18th-most populous state of the Union. The largest urban areas are St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, and Columbia; the capital is Jefferson City. The state is the 21st-most extensive in area. Missouri is bordered by eight states : Iowa to the north, Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee to the east, Arkansas to the south, and Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska to the west. In the South are the Ozarks, a forested highland, providing timber, minerals, and recreation. The Missouri River, after which the state is named, flows through the center of the state into the Mississippi River, which makes up Missouri's eastern border.
Sumner High School, also known as Charles H. Sumner High School, is a St. Louis public high school that was the first high school for African-American students west of the Mississippi River. Together with Vashon High School, Sumner was one of only two segregated public high schools in St. Louis City for African-American students. Established in 1875 only after extensive lobbying by some of St. Louis' African-American residents, Sumner moved to its current location in 1908.
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 and 2011 lists 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 was nicknamed by NBC as the "Father of Rock and Roll".
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, located in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, on the shore of Lake Erie, recognizes and archives the history of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers, and other notable figures who have had some major influence on the development of rock and roll. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation was established on April 20, 1983, by Ahmet Ertegun, founder and chairman of Atlantic Records. In 1986, Cleveland was chosen as the Hall of Fame's permanent home.
Rolling Stone is an American monthly magazine that focuses on popular culture. It was founded in San Francisco, California in 1967 by Jann Wenner, who is still the magazine's publisher, and music critic Ralph J. Gleason, which became famous for its coverage of rock music, and for political reporting by authors such as Hunter S. Thompson. In the 1990s, the magazine broadened and shifted its focus to a younger readership interested in youth-oriented television shows, film actors, and popular music. In recent years, it has resumed its traditional mix of content.
"The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time" is a special issue published by the American magazine Rolling Stone in two parts in 2004 and 2005 and updated in 2011. The list presented was compiled based on input from musicians, writers, and industry figures and is focused on the rock & roll era. It predominantly features American and British musicians.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri,Berry was the fourth child in a family of six. He grew up in the north St. Louis neighborhood known as the Ville, an area where many middle-class people lived. His father, Henry William Berry (1895–1987), was a contractor and deacon of a nearby Baptist church; his mother, Martha Bell (Banks) (1894–1980), was a certified public school principal. Berry's upbringing allowed him to pursue his interest in music from an early age. He gave his first public performance in 1941 while still a student at Sumner High School; he was still a student there in 1944, when he was arrested for armed robbery after robbing three shops in Kansas City, Missouri, and then stealing a car at gunpoint with some friends. Berry's account in his autobiography is that his car broke down and he flagged down a passing car and stole it at gunpoint with a nonfunctional pistol. He was convicted and sent to the Intermediate Reformatory for Young Men at Algoa, near Jefferson City, Missouri, where he formed a singing quartet and did some boxing. The singing group became competent enough that the authorities allowed it to perform outside the detention facility. Berry was released from the reformatory on his 21st birthday in 1947.
The Ville is a historic African-American neighborhood located in North St. Louis, Missouri. It has had a long history of African-American businesses and residents.
Kansas City is the largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city had an estimated population of 491,918 in 2018, making it the 38th most-populous city in the United States. It is the central city of the Kansas City metropolitan area, which straddles the Kansas–Missouri state line. Kansas City was founded in the 1830s as a Missouri River port at its confluence with the Kansas River coming in from the west. On June 1, 1850, the town of Kansas was incorporated; shortly after came the establishment of the Kansas Territory. Confusion between the two ensued and the name Kansas City was assigned to distinguish them soon after.
Jefferson City, officially the City of Jefferson and informally Jeff City, is the capital of the U.S. state of Missouri and the 15th most populous city in the state. It is also the county seat of Cole County and the principal city of the Jefferson City Metropolitan Statistical Area, the second-most-populous metropolitan area in Mid-Missouri and the fifth-largest in the state. Most of the city is in Cole County, with a small northern section extending into Callaway County. Jefferson City is named for Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States.
On October 28, 1948, Berry married Themetta "Toddy" Suggs, who gave birth to Darlin Ingrid Berry on October 3, 1950.Berry supported his family by taking various jobs in St. Louis, working briefly as a factory worker at two automobile assembly plants and as a janitor in the apartment building where he and his wife lived. Afterwards he trained as a beautician at the Poro College of Cosmetology, founded by Annie Turnbo Malone. He was doing well enough by 1950 to buy a "small three room brick cottage with a bath" on Whittier Street, which is now listed as the Chuck Berry House on the National Register of Historic Places.
Annie Minerva Turnbo Malone was an African-American businesswoman, inventor and philanthropist. She was one of the first African American women to become a millionaire. In the first three decades of the 20th century, she founded and developed a large and prominent commercial and educational enterprise centered on cosmetics for African-American women.
The Chuck Berry House is the former home of American rock and roll musician Chuck Berry in St. Louis, Missouri located at 3137 Whittier Street. The house was Berry's home when he wrote and first performed the majority of songs with which he is identified, including "Maybellene" (1955), "Roll Over Beethoven" (1956), "Too Much Monkey Business" (1956), "Rock and Roll Music" (1957), "School Day" (1957), "Sweet Little Sixteen" (1958), and "Johnny B. Goode" (1958).
The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is the United States federal government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation for their historical significance. A property listed in the National Register, or located within a National Register Historic District, may qualify for tax incentives derived from the total value of expenses incurred in preserving the property.
By the early 1950s, Berry was working with local bands in clubs in St. Louis as an extra source of income.He had been playing blues since his teens, and he borrowed both guitar riffs and showmanship techniques from the blues musician T-Bone Walker. He also took guitar lessons from his friend Ira Harris, which laid the foundation for his guitar style.
Guitar showmanship involves gimmicks, jumps, or other stunts with a guitar. Some examples of guitar showmanship became trademarks of musicians such as Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townshend, Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, Yngwie Malmsteen, Eddie Van Halen, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ace Frehley, and Angus Young.
Aaron Thibeaux "T-Bone" Walker was an American blues guitarist, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who was a pioneer and innovator of the jump blues and electric blues sound. In 2018 Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 37 on its list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".
By early 1953 Berry was performing with Johnnie Johnson's trio, starting a long-time collaboration with the pianist.The band played mostly blues and ballads, but the most popular music among whites in the area was country. Berry wrote, "Curiosity provoked me to lay a lot of our country stuff on our predominantly black audience and some of our black audience began whispering 'who is that black hillbilly at the Cosmo?' After they laughed at me a few times they began requesting the hillbilly stuff and enjoyed dancing to it."
Berry's calculated showmanship, along with a mix of country tunes and R&B tunes, sung in the style of Nat King Cole set to the music of Muddy Waters, brought in a wider audience, particularly affluent white people.
In May 1955, Berry traveled to Chicago, where he met Muddy Waters, who suggested he contact Leonard Chess, of Chess Records. Berry thought his blues music would be of more interest to Chess, but to his surprise it was a traditional country fiddle tune, "Ida Red", as recorded by Bob Wills,that got Chess's attention. Chess had seen the rhythm and blues market shrink and was looking to move beyond it, and he thought Berry might be the artist for that purpose. On May 21, 1955, Berry recorded an adaptation of the song "Ida Red", under the title "Maybellene", with Johnnie Johnson on the piano, Jerome Green (from Bo Diddley's band) on the maracas, Jasper Thomas on the drums and Willie Dixon on the bass. "Maybellene" sold over a million copies, reaching number one on Billboard magazine's rhythm and blues chart and number five on its Best Sellers in Stores chart for September 10, 1955. Berry said, "It came out at the right time when Afro-American music was spilling over into the mainstream pop."
At the end of June 1956, his song "Roll Over Beethoven" reached number 29 on the Billboard's Top 100 chart, and Berry toured as one of the "Top Acts of '56". He and Carl Perkins became friends. Perkins said that "I knew when I first heard Chuck that he'd been affected by country music. I respected his writing; his records were very, very great." As they toured, Perkins discovered that Berry not only liked country music but also knew about as many songs as he did. Jimmie Rodgers was one of his favorites. "Chuck knew every Blue Yodel and most of Bill Monroe's songs as well", Perkins remembered. "He told me about how he was raised very poor, very tough. He had a hard life. He was a good guy. I really liked him."
In late 1957, Berry took part in Alan Freed's "Biggest Show of Stars for 1957", touring the United States with the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, and others.He was a guest on ABC's Guy Mitchell Show , singing his hit song "Rock 'n' Roll Music". The hits continued from 1957 to 1959, with Berry scoring over a dozen chart singles during this period, including the US Top 10 hits "School Days", "Rock and Roll Music", "Sweet Little Sixteen", and "Johnny B. Goode". He appeared in two early rock-and-roll movies: Rock Rock Rock (1956), in which he sang "You Can't Catch Me", and Go, Johnny, Go! (1959), in which he had a speaking role as himself and performed "Johnny B. Goode", "Memphis, Tennessee", and "Little Queenie". His performance of "Sweet Little Sixteen" at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958 was captured in the motion picture Jazz on a Summer's Day .
By the end of the 1950s, Berry was a high-profile established star with several hit records and film appearances and a lucrative touring career. He had opened a racially integrated St. Louis nightclub, Berry's Club Bandstand, and invested in real estate.But in December 1959, he was arrested under the Mann Act after allegations that he had had sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old Apache waitress, Janice Escalante, whom he had transported across state lines to work as a hatcheck girl at his club. After a two-week trial in March 1960, he was convicted, fined $5,000, and sentenced to five years in prison. He appealed the decision, arguing that the judge's comments and attitude were racist and prejudiced the jury against him. The appeal was upheld, and a second trial was heard in May and June 1961, resulting in another conviction and a three-year prison sentence. After another appeal failed, Berry served one and one-half years in prison, from February 1962 to October 1963. He had continued recording and performing during the trials, but his output had slowed as his popularity declined; his final single released before he was imprisoned was "Come On".
When Berry was released from prison in 1963, his return to recording and performing was made easier because British invasion bands—notably the Beatles and the Rolling Stones—had sustained interest in his music by releasing cover versions of his songs,and other bands had reworked some of them, such as the Beach Boys' 1963 hit "Surfin' U.S.A.", which used the melody of Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen". In 1964 and 1965 Berry released eight singles, including three that were commercially successful, reaching the top 20 of the Billboard 100: "No Particular Place to Go" (a humorous reworking of "School Days", concerning the introduction of seat belts in cars), "You Never Can Tell", and the rocking "Nadine". Between 1966 and 1969 Berry released five albums for Mercury Records, including his second live album (and first recorded entirely onstage), Live at Fillmore Auditorium , in which he was backed by the Steve Miller Band.
Although this period was not a successful one for studio work,Berry was still a top concert draw. In May 1964, he had made a successful tour of the UK, but when he returned in January 1965 his behavior was erratic and moody, and his touring style of using unrehearsed local backing bands and a strict nonnegotiable contract was earning him a reputation as a difficult and unexciting performer. He also played at large events in North America, such as the Schaefer Music Festival, in New York City's Central Park in July 1969, and the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival festival in October.
Berry returned to Chess from 1970 to 1973. There were no hit singles from the 1970 album Back Home, but in 1972 Chess released a live recording of "My Ding-a-Ling", a novelty song which he had recorded in a different version as "My Tambourine" on his 1968 LP From St. Louie to Frisco.The track became his only number-one single. A live recording of "Reelin' and Rockin'", issued as a follow-up single in the same year, was his last Top 40 hit in both the US and the UK. Both singles were included on the part-live, part-studio album The London Chuck Berry Sessions (other albums of London sessions were recorded by Chess's mainstay artists Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf). Berry's second tenure with Chess ended with the 1975 album Chuck Berry, after which he did not make a studio record until Rockit for Atco Records in 1979, which would be his last studio album for 38 years.
In the 1970s Berry toured on the strength of his earlier successes. He was on the road for many years, carrying only his Gibson guitar, confident that he could hire a band that already knew his music no matter where he went. AllMusic said that in this period his "live performances became increasingly erratic, ... working with terrible backup bands and turning in sloppy, out-of-tune performances" which "tarnished his reputation with younger fans and oldtimers" alike. In March 1972 he was filmed, at the BBC Television Theatre in Shepherds Bush, for Chuck Berry in Concert, part of a 60-date tour backed by the band Rocking Horse. Among the many bandleaders performing a backup role with Berry in the 1970s were Bruce Springsteen and Steve Miller when each was just starting his career. Springsteen related in the documentary film Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll that Berry did not give the band a set list and expected the musicians to follow his lead after each guitar intro. Berry neither spoke to nor thanked the band after the show. Nevertheless, Springsteen backed Berry again when he appeared at the concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. At the request of Jimmy Carter, Berry performed at the White House on June 1, 1979.
Berry's touring style, traveling the "oldies" circuit in the 1970s (often being paid in cash by local promoters) added ammunition to the Internal Revenue Service's accusations that Berry had evaded paying income taxes. Facing criminal sanction for the third time, Berry pleaded guilty to evading nearly $110,000 in federal income tax owed on his 1973 earnings. Newspaper reports in 1979 put his 1973 joint income (with his wife) at $374,982.He was sentenced to four months in prison and 1,000 hours of community service—performing benefit concerts—in 1979.
Berry continued to play 70 to 100 one-nighters per year in the 1980s, still traveling solo and requiring a local band to back him at each stop. In 1986, Taylor Hackford made a documentary film, Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll , of a celebration concert for Berry's sixtieth birthday, organized by Keith Richards.Eric Clapton, Etta James, Julian Lennon, Robert Cray and Linda Ronstadt, among others, appeared with Berry on stage and in the film. During the concert, Berry played a Gibson ES-355, the luxury version of the ES-335 that he favored on his 1970s tours. Richards played a black Fender Telecaster Custom, Cray a Fender Stratocaster and Clapton a Gibson ES 350T, the same model that Berry used on his early recordings.
In the late 1980s, Berry bought the Southern Air, a restaurant in Wentzville, Missouri. grams of marijuana. Felony drug and child-abuse charges were filed. As the child-abuse charges were dropped, Berry agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor possession of marijuana. He was given a six-month suspended jail sentence, placed on two years unsupervised probation and was ordered to donate $5,000 to a local hospital.In 1987, Berry was charged with assaulting a woman at New York's Gramercy Park Hotel. He was accused of causing "lacerations of the mouth, requiring five stitches, two loose teeth, [and] contusions of the face." He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of harassment and paid a $250 fine. In 1990, he was sued by several women who claimed that he had installed a video camera in the bathroom. Berry claimed that he had had the camera installed to catch a worker who was suspected of stealing from the restaurant. Although his guilt was never proven in court, Berry opted for a class action settlement. One of his biographers, Bruce Pegg, estimated that with 59 women it cost Berry over $1.2 million plus legal fees. His lawyers said he had been the victim of a conspiracy to profit from his wealth. During this time Berry began using Wayne T. Schoeneberg as his legal counsel. Reportedly, a police raid on his house found intimate videotapes of women, one of whom was apparently a minor. Also found in the raid were 62
In November 2000, Berry faced legal issues when he was sued by his former pianist Johnnie Johnson, who claimed that he had co-written over 50 songs, including "No Particular Place to Go", "Sweet Little Sixteen" and "Roll Over Beethoven", that credit Berry alone. The case was dismissed when the judge ruled that too much time had passed since the songs were written.
In 2008, Berry toured Europe, with stops in Sweden, Norway, Finland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland, Poland and Spain. In mid-2008, he played at the Virgin Festival in Baltimore, Maryland.During a concert on New Year's Day 2011 in Chicago, Berry, suffering from exhaustion, passed out and had to be helped off stage.
Berry lived in Ladue, Missouri, approximately 10 miles (16 km) west of St. Louis. He also had a home at "Berry Park", near Wentzville, Missouri, where he lived part-time since the 1950s, and was the home in which he died. This home, with the guitar-shaped swimming pool, is seen in scenes near the end of the film "Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll". He regularly performed one Wednesday each month at Blueberry Hill, a restaurant and bar located in the Delmar Loop neighborhood of St. Louis, from 1996 to 2014.
Berry announced on his 90th birthday that his first new studio album since Rockit in 1979, entitled Chuck , would be released in 2017.His first new record in 38 years, it includes his children, Charles Berry Jr. and Ingrid, on guitar and harmonica, with songs "covering the spectrum from hard-driving rockers to soulful thought-provoking time capsules of a life's work" and dedicated to his beloved wife of 68 years, Toddy.
On March 18, 2017, police in St. Charles County, Missouri, were called to Berry's house, near Wentzville, Missouri, where he was found unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at the scene, aged 90, by his personal physician.TMZ posted an audio recording on its website in which the 911 operator can be heard responding to a reported "cardiac arrest" at Berry's home.
Berry's funeral was held on April 9, 2017, at The Pageant, in Berry's hometown of St. Louis, Missouri.He was remembered with a public viewing by family, friends, and fans in The Pageant, a music club where he often performed, with his cherry-red guitar bolted to the inside lid of the coffin and with flower arrangements that included one sent by the Rolling Stones in the shape of a guitar. Afterwards a private service was held in the club celebrating Berry's life and musical career, with the Berry family inviting 300 members of the public into the service. Gene Simmons of Kiss gave an impromptu, unadvertised eulogy at the service, while Little Richard was scheduled to lead the funeral procession but was unable to attend due to an illness. The night before, many St. Louis area bars held a mass toast at 10 pm in Berry's honor.
One of Berry's attorneys estimated that his estate was worth $50 million, including $17 million in music rights. Berry's music publishing accounted for $13 million of the estate's value. The Berry estate owned roughly half of his songwriting credits (mostly from his later career), while BMG Rights Management controlled the other half; most of Berry's recordings are currently owned by Universal Music Group.In September 2017, Dualtone, the label which released Berry's final album, Chuck, agreed to publish all his compositions in the United States.
A pioneer of rock and roll, Berry was a significant influence on the development of both the music and the attitude associated with the rock music lifestyle. With songs such as "Maybellene" (1955), "Roll Over Beethoven" (1956), "Rock and Roll Music" (1957) and "Johnny B. Goode" (1958), Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive, with lyrics successfully aimed to appeal to the early teenage market by using graphic and humorous descriptions of teen dances, fast cars, high school life, and consumer culture,and utilizing guitar solos and showmanship that would be a major influence on subsequent rock music. Thus Berry, the songwriter, according to critic Jon Pareles, invented rock as "a music of teenage wishes fulfilled and good times (even with cops in pursuit)." Berry contributed three things to rock music: an irresistible swagger, a focus on the guitar riff as the primary melodic element and an emphasis on songwriting as storytelling. His records are a rich storehouse of the essential lyrical, showmanship and musical components of rock and roll. In addition to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, a large number of significant popular-music performers have recorded Berry's songs. Although not technically accomplished, his guitar style is distinctive—he incorporated electronic effects to mimic the sound of bottleneck blues guitarists and drew on the influence of guitar players such as Carl Hogan, and T-Bone Walker to produce a clear and exciting sound that many later guitarists would acknowledge as an influence in their own style. Berry's showmanship has been influential on other rock guitarists, particularly his one-legged hop routine, and the "duck walk", which he first used as a child when he walked "stooping with full-bended knees, but with my back and head vertical" under a table to retrieve a ball and his family found it entertaining; he used it when "performing in New York for the first time and some journalist branded it the duck walk."
He has been cited as a major reference to a variety of some of the most influential acts of all time:
On July 29, 2011, Berry was honored in a dedication of an eight-foot, in-motion Chuck Berry Statue in the Delmar Loop in St. Louis, Missouri, right across the street from Blue Berry Hill. Berry said, "It's glorious--I do appreciate it to the highest, no doubt about it. That sort of honor is seldom given out. But I don't deserve it."
The rock critic Robert Christgau considers Berry "the greatest of the rock and rollers",while John Lennon said, "if you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'." Ted Nugent said, "If you don't know every Chuck Berry lick, you can't play rock guitar." Bob Dylan called Berry "the Shakespeare of rock 'n' roll". Springsteen tweeted, "Chuck Berry was rock's greatest practitioner, guitarist, and the greatest pure rock 'n' roll writer who ever lived."
When asked what caused the explosion of the popularity of rock 'n roll that took place in the 1950s, with him and a handful of others, mainly him, Berry said, "Well, actually they begin to listen to it, you see, because certain stations played certain music. The music that we, the blacks, played, the cultures were so far apart, we would have to have a play station in order to play it. The cultures begin to come together, and you begin to see one another's vein of life, then the music came together."
Among the honors Berry received were the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2000. He was ranked seventh on Time magazine's 2009 list of the 10 best electric guitar players of all time. On May 14, 2002, Berry was honored as one of the first BMI Icons at the 50th annual BMI Pop Awards. He was presented the award along with BMI affiliates Bo Diddley and Little Richard. In August 2014, Berry was made a laureate of the Polar Music Prize.
Berry is included in several of Rolling Stone magazine's "Greatest of All Time" lists. In September 2003, the magazine ranked him number 6 in its list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". 's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. In March 2004, Berry was ranked fifth on the list of "The Immortals – The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time". In December 2004, six of his songs were included in "Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time": "Johnny B. Goode" (#7), "Maybellene" (#18), "Roll Over Beethoven" (#97), "Rock and Roll Music" (#128), "Sweet Little Sixteen" (#272) and "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" (#374). In June 2008, his song "Johnny B. Goode" was ranked first in the "100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time".In November his compilation album The Great Twenty-Eight was ranked 21st in Rolling Stone
The journalist Chuck Klosterman has argued that in 300 years Berry will still be remembered as the rock musician who most closely captured the essence of rock and roll.Time magazine stated, "There was no one like Elvis. But there was 'definitely' no one like Chuck Berry." Rolling Stone magazine called him "the father of rock & roll" who "gave the music its sound and its attitude, even as he battled racism - and his own misdeeds - all the way," reporting that Leonard Cohen said, "All of us are footnotes to the words of Chuck Berry." Kevin Strait, curator of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, said that Berry is "one of the primary sonic architects of rock and roll."
On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Chuck Berry among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.
Johnnie Clyde Johnson was an American pianist who played jazz, blues and rock and roll. His work with Chuck Berry led to his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for breaking racial barriers in the military, as he was a Montford Point Marine - where the African-American unit endured racism and inspired social change while integrating the previously all-white Marine Corps during World War II.
Chess Records was an American record company, founded in 1950 in Chicago and specializing in blues and rhythm and blues. Over time it expanded into soul music, gospel music, early rock and roll, and occasional jazz and comedy recordings, released on the Chess label and on its subsidiary labels Checker, Argo/Cadet and Cadet Concept. The entire Chess catalogue is currently owned by Universal Music Group and managed by Geffen Records.
"Johnny B. Goode" is a 1958 rock-and-roll song written and first recorded by Chuck Berry. The song was a major hit, peaking at number two on Billboard magazine's Hot R&B Sides chart and number eight on its Hot 100 chart.
"Rock and Roll Music" is a 1957 hit single written and recorded by rock and roll star Chuck Berry. The song has been widely covered and is recognized as one of Berry's most popular and enduring compositions. In the fall of 1957, his recording reached number 6 on Billboard magazine's R&B Singles chart and number 8 on its Hot 100 chart.
Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll is an album by Chuck Berry and soundtrack to the film of the same name, which was released in 1987 under record label, MCA. The album was recorded live at The Fox Theatre, St Louis, Missouri and Berry Park, Wentzville, Missouri on October 6 and October 16, 1986. The event was held to celebrate Berry's 60th birthday and it included several special guests. The album does not include the Berry song "School Days," which includes the line the album's title is derived from.
Concerto in "B Goode" is the thirteenth studio album by Chuck Berry, released in 1969 by Mercury Records. The title song is an extended instrumental interpolation of a wide range of theme pioneered in Berry's classic 1957-62 period, running approximately 18 minutes and taking up the entire second side of the record; this is Berry embracing the emerging preference in the rock genre for extended numbers. The title refers to Berry's semi-autobiographical song "Johnny B. Goode."
Chuck Berry Is on Top is the third studio album by rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry, released in July 1959 on Chess Records, catalogue LP 1435. With the exception of one track, "Blues for Hawaiians," all selections had been previously released on 45 rpm singles, several of which were double-sided and charted twice. In his review of the album for AllMusic, Cub Koda described it as "almost a mini-greatest-hits package in and of itself" and the most perfectly realized collection of Berry's career. In 2008, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab reissued the album with St. Louis to Liverpool on an Ultradisc II Gold compact disc. In 2012, Hoodoo reissued the album with One Dozen Berrys on the same CD.
St. Louis to Liverpool is the seventh studio album and tenth album overall by rock and roll artist Chuck Berry, released in 1964 on Chess Records, catalogue number 1488. It peaked at number 124 on the Billboard album chart, the first of Berry's studio albums to appear on the chart. Music critic Dave Marsh named it "one of the greatest rock & roll records ever made".
Chuck Berry Twist is the first compilation album by Chuck Berry, released by Chess Records in February 1962, during Berry's imprisonment. The title was an attempt to capitalize on a new dance craze, the Twist, introduced by Chubby Checker in 1960, even though none of the songs musically conformed to the Twist style. The album was reissued a year later with a new title, More Chuck Berry. An album with that title was released in the UK by Pye International Records in 1964, featuring the same cover but a completely different track listing.
"Sweet Little Sixteen" is a rock and roll song written and first recorded by Chuck Berry, who released it as a single in January 1958. His performance of it at that year's Newport Jazz Festival was included in the documentary film Jazz on a Summer's Day. It reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100, Berry's second-highest position ever on that chart. "Sweet Little Sixteen" also reached number one on the R&B Best Sellers chart. In the UK, it reached number 16 on the UK Official Charts. Rolling Stone magazine ranked the song number 272 on its list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" in 2004. He used the same melody on an earlier song, "The Little Girl From Central" recorded on Checkmate in 1955.
Chuck Berry's Golden Decade is a compilation of music by Chuck Berry, released in three volumes in 1967, 1973, and 1974. Covering the decade from 1955 to 1964, each volume consists of a two-LP set of 24 songs recorded by Berry. The first volume reached number 72 on Billboard's Pop Albums chart. The second volume peaked at number 110. The third volume, which included only two hit singles among its tracks, did not chart.
"Nadine " is a song written and recorded by Chuck Berry. It was released as a single in February 1964 and was the first music that Berry released after finishing a prison term in October 1963.
The Chess Box is a compact disc box set compilation by Chuck Berry. It is one in a series of box sets issued by MCA/Chess in the late 1980s. The Chuck Berry set is the most prominent of these, having won a Grammy Award for Best Historical Album in 1989. Berry's Chess Box was reissued on vinyl in 1990.
"Ain't That Just Like a Woman " is a 1946 song by Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five. The song went to number one on the R&B Jukebox chart for two weeks and peaked at number seventeen on the pop chart. Chuck Berry, who acknowledged the influence of both Louis Jordan and Carl Hogan, copied the latter's guitar intro to the song for his 1958 classic "Johnny B. Goode".
"Wee Wee Hours" is a song composed and recorded by Chuck Berry in 1955. Originally released as the B-side of his first single, "Maybellene", it went on to become a hit, reaching number 10 in the Billboard R&B chart.
Billy Peek is an American rock and roll and blues guitarist, singer, songwriter, composer, producer. Billy Peek has recorded, toured and played as lead guitarist for rock icon Rod Stewart for five years. Billy Peek has recorded, toured and performed with rock legend Chuck Berry and was the backing band for Chuck Berry's European tour. Peek continuously performs with his own band throughout the U.S.
Chuck Berry's Golden Hits is the tenth studio album by Chuck Berry, released in 1967 by Mercury Records, his first for that label. It consists of new recordings of songs he had recorded for Chess Records and one new song. The re-recordings were performed with faster tempos and recorded in stereo. While the rest of Berry's albums for Mercury rest in obscurity, Golden Hits is still available.
Chuck is the eponymous (posthumous) twentieth and final studio album by American rock and roll singer and guitarist Chuck Berry, released in June 2017. Berry died between the announcement of its recording on his 90th birthday in October 2016 and its release. It (posthumously) became his first UK Top 10 chart entry since 1977, debuting at No. 9. This is the first Berry studio album to be released in almost four decades. It was positively received by critics who considered it a return to form and a poignant last statement.
A significant moment in his early life was a musical performance in 1941 at Sumner High School, which had a middle-class black student body.