Rock ‘n’ Roll legend Chuck Berry has sadly passed away at the age of 90. The iconic songwriter who defined an entire generation was found unresponsive at his home in St. Charles, Missouri on Saturday afternoon (March 18).
John Lennon once said “If you had to give rock ‘n’ roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry”….and with good reason. Whether they realise it or not, almost every guitarist over the last 60 years has in one way or another been inspired by Chuck Berry.
Berry was born on October 18, 1926 into a middle class African American family in St. Louis, Missouri. The fourth child of six, Berry showed a rebellious nature even as a youth and was eventually incarcerated at an Intermediate Reformatory for Young Men, after performing a series of robberies in his mid teens. It was during his time at a correctional facility that Berry turned to music, forming a singing quartet with some of the other inmates.
Following his release; Berry married, and worked a number of blue collar jobs to support himself and his wife. During this time he began to learn guitar and started playing the blues.
Berry got his first big break after moving to Chicago and meeting a man named Leonard Chess. Chess was the owner of Chess Records, and was looking to revamp the cities faltering rhythm and blues scene.
Berry released his first single ‘Maybellene’ in 1955. The song became a national hit and paved the way for a hugely prolific period in the young artists career. Between 1956 and 1964, Berry released some of the most iconic songs in the history of American music including: “Roll Over Beethoven”, ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’, ‘Johnny B. Goode’, ‘No Particular Place To Go’ and ‘You Never Can Tell’.
These songs would go on to inspire some of the most popular artists the world has even known including such acts as The Beatles,The Rolling Stones Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan. It is impossible to imagine what todays music would be like without Chuck Berry’s influence. The world has lost a true legend. RIP.