Internationally iconic guitarist, singer and songwriter Charles Edward Anderson “Chuck” Berry was found unresponsive at his home in St. Charles County, Missouri. He was pronounced dead of natural causes at age 90.
Hailed as “The Father of Rock and Roll,” Berry died on March 18, leaving a legacy that will last forever.
Berry, inspired by blues notables T-Bone Walker, Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon, created such classics as “Johnny B. Goode,” “Carol” and “Maybellene”. Contemporary guitar greats Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton followed in his wake.
Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards unabashedly made a career of copying Berry’s unique style. The Beatles, early in their history, paid homage with “Rock and Roll Music” and “Roll Over Beethoven”.
Berry evolved as an artist while crossing from 1950s race records to the pop charts. Before hitting the big time, Chuck Berry gigged when he could while supporting his family with did odd jobs as a factory worker and janitor.
He began performing in St. Louis with the Johnnie Johnson Trio in 1952. From there he went north to Chicago, crossing paths with McKinley “Muddy Waters” Morganfield, who led him to Chess Records where he recorded “Maybellene.”
In 1960, he was convicted of violating the Mann Act and served a third of the sentence. One year later he appealed the case based on grounds of racism. A second trial sentence put him back behind bars for a year and a half. His career was interrupted until he returned to recording and performing in 1963.
Berry was an inaugural inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and was recognized by the Kennedy Center Honors, performing his sole number-one song, the humorous “My Ding-a-Ling.”