Rock and Roll legend Chuck Berry has passed away at 90

chuckberry

Musical legend Chuck Berry died at his home Saturday. He was 90 years old and is survived by his wife of 68 years, Themetta Berry, and two children, Ingrid and Charles, Jr.

Berry is commonly known as the father of Rock and Roll. It was his blending of R&B with honkytonk that linked two disparate music genre groups and gave rise to a new sound in music. Berry told the New York Times that when he sang his music, he made a point to pay close attention to his diction to appeal to both white and black listeners, and he is generally credited with bridging the biracial gap in music. Berry said, “I made records for people who would buy them. No color, no ethnic, no political — I don’t want that, never did.”  In addition to his guitar solos and distinct sound, Berry made famous a particular stage move he called the Duck Walk that is copied by many, especially when trying to convey a 1950s sound.

Berry’s contribution went far beyond a musical style, he is credited with defining the modern teenager by giving social commentary a popular beat.

Berry is one of those artists that even if you don’t recognize his name, you have likely heard one of his songs: Sweet Little Sixteen, Maybellene, Roll Over Beethoven, Brown Eyed Handsome Man, School Days, Nadine, Rock and Roll Music and Johnny B. Goode, which Marty McFly cheekily took credit for in Back to the Future.

Legendary musician Chuck Berry has died, police confirm. He was 90.

The St. Charles County Police Department in Missouri confirmed on Facebook that they responded to a medical emergency on Saturday afternoon where they found an unresponsive man.

Born Charles Edward Anderson Berry on Oct. 18, 1926 in St. Louis, Missouri, Berry was one of six children born to his father Henry, a contractor and deacon, and his mother, Martha, a public school principal. He was raised in a neighborhood known as The Ville, which was a mostly middle class area at the time. He was fascinated with music from an early age, and gave one of his first public performances in 1941 while still a high school student.

Berry served the first of his three infamous prison terms while still a high school student in 1944. At the age of 17.

He was playing with local bands in St. Louis for an extra flow of income. Around this time, he was combining the blues music he had played since he was a teenager, while borrowing techniques and tricks from blues legend T-Bone Walker. His guitar lessons from friend Ira Harris began to shape his style with the instrument. By 1953 he was playing with Johnnie Johnson’s trio, and began incorporating the country sound that would lend to his appeal with white audiences.

Around this time, Berry began incorporating his famous duck walk into his act. The duck walk was an old inside joke with his family from his childhood. According to Berry, a ball he was playing with as a kid rolled under a kitchen table where his mother and her church friends were sitting. Jokingly, he crouched down, knees fully bent, and with his head and back straight, he scooted under the table to get the ball. His mother got a kick out of it, asked him to repeat the waddle again and the duck walk was born.

Recently, on his 90th birthday, Berry announced plans for a new studio album, his first since 1979. The album, titled Chuck, will be released this year. It features his children, Charles Berry Jr. and Ingrid, on guitar and harmonica, and is dedicated to his wife of 68 years, Themetta Berry.

[From People]

Berry continued to perform into his 80s. It was only after he collapsed on stage in Maryland that he retired from touring. However, he still played every Wednesday night at the Blueberry Hill restaurant up until three years ago, something he’d been doing since 1996.

As I said, you may not know who Chuck Berry is off the top of you head but you have heard him. Even if you don’t know his music, bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were greatly influenced by him. Not only did they both groups cover Berry’s songs early in their careers but his music shaped their sound. Keith Richards had the honor of inducting him into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Countless other celebrities have paid tribute:

RIP, Mr. Berry.

photos credit: WENN, FameFlynet, PRPhotos and Getty

 

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23 Responses to “Rock and Roll legend Chuck Berry has passed away at 90”

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  1. Elle says:

    I definitely know who Chuck Berry was, and I’m glad you posted about him. “Johnny B. Goode” was among a small set of songs from Earth sent on the Interstellar Mission to other galaxies in search of alien life. The list was selected by Carl Sagan, I believe.

    Berry was a giant in music and I wish more young people knew that many of the songs they love were influenced by Mr. Berry. Hail, hail, Rock and Rock!

  2. Betsy says:

    Chuck Berry man…. he WAS rock n roll.

  3. Lightpurple says:

    Roll over, Beethoven, make room for Chuck. May he rest in peace.

    Keith Richards and Taylor Hackford made a documentary/concert film about Berry – Hail, Hail Rock & Roll.

  4. bleu_moon says:

    I hate to me “that” person. As much as I respect his contributions to music, I never really got past his bust for installing hidden cameras in the ladies room of his restaurant.

  5. SusanneToo says:

    Who would not know who Chuck Berry was? Simply one of the greatest lyricists who ever lived. A poet, a founding father of rock n roll, a giant in our culture. He influenced so many. I got to see him once, in the early 60′s, it was great. RIP Mr. Berry.

  6. Really says:

    I’m from STL and the first thought that came to my mind is he was the perve who had a hidden camera in the women’s restroom of his restaurant.

  7. Almondjoy says:

    Thank you so much for posting this!

  8. Mia4S says:

    A mixed legacy. Personal failings in the extreme but an extraordinary musician and innovator. It’s true for so many great artists and so hard to reconcile!

  9. Eric says:

    Very influential.
    Think AC/DC

  10. JA says:

    Masterful musician but a perversed man. That is all

  11. NeoCleo says:

    Rest in peace sir and thank you gifting us with ROCK N ROLL!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. teacakes says:

    R.I.P.

    I knew who he was, it was hard not to if you were a Beatles fan (the hardcore kind), which some of my friends were.

  13. Ash says:

    Chuck berry was the REAL KING and FATHER of RockNRoll….