Richard E. Aaron/Redferns
Chuck Berry performs in a New York club in 1980.

Chuck Berry, the singer, songwriter and guitar great who practically defined rock music with his impeccably twangy hits “Maybellene,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Memphis,” “My Ding-a-Ling” and “Sweet Little Sixteen,” has died. He was 90.

The singer/songwriter, whose classic “Johnny B. Goode” was chosen by Carl Sagan to be included on the golden record of Earth Sounds and Music launched with Voyager in 1977, died Saturday afternoon, St. Charles County Police Department confirmed. The cause of death was not revealed. 

During his 60-plus years in show business, Berry in 1986 became one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He entered The Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame in ’85 and that year also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Chuck Berry in 1958.

READ MORE

A History of Chuck Berry's Biggest Billboard Hits

He performed in 1979 for President Jimmy Carter at the White House, landed at No. 6 on Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and trademarked his stage showmanship with his famous “duck walk.”  

John Lennon once said, “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry.’” He paved the way for such music legends as the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the BandJimi HendrixDavid BowieEric ClaptonAC/DCSex Pistols and Jerry Lee Lewis, among many others.

Muddy Waters, Berry’s idol and musical influence, gave him some constructive backstage advice: contact Leonard Chess. Chicago-based Chess Records, primarily a blues label run by Polish brothers Leonard and Phil Chess, had a series of transplanted blues artists on its roster, including Howlin’ Wolf, Bo DiddleyJimmy Reed and John Lee Hooker

The Chess brothers signed Berry in 1955 and produced and released his first single, “Maybellene,” an adaption of the Bob Wills song “Ida Red.” It sold more than a million copies, reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B charts and hit No. 5 on the Pop charts, allowing Berry to build crossover appeal beyond the R&B audience.

Chuck Berry performs circa 1957. 

READ MORE

Chuck Berry's Quiet 1950s Revolution: Dispatches From the Pages of Billboard's Past

“Maybellene” blended hillbilly licks and high-spirited blues riffs, ultimately creating the signature sound that pioneered the rock revolution. The lyrics for the song had narrative swagger, reflecting the spirit of teenage angst depicting fast cars, drag races and the story of an unfaithful girl as its main themes.

He explained his appeal to adolescents across different cultural backgrounds: “Everything I wrote about wasn’t about me but [was about] the people listening.” He had a way of identifying what people wanted to express, but weren’t able to, during this segregated time. 

Berry, the fourth of six children, was born on Oct. 18, 1926, as Charles Edward Anderson. He was raised in St. Louis in a middle-class black neighborhood. His father Henry was a contractor and his mother Martha a school principal.  

Berry married Themetta Suggs in 1948 and had four children with her. He supported his family by becoming a factory worker, janitor and cosmetologist before pounding the pavement in the club circuit to earn extra cash. He partnered with pianist Johnnie Johnson, joining his group Sir John’s Trio, which later became known as the Chuck Berry Combo. 

His debut album, After School Session, produced by the Chess brothers, featured a variety of musicians including Johnson, Ebby Hardy, Jimmy Rogers, Willie Dixon, Otis Spann and Fred Below. The effort was tailored toward a youthful market featuring comedic cut-up lyrics, rhythmically intricate guitar parts and stand-alone solos in effortless anthems like “School Days,” “Too Much Monkey Business,” “Wee Wee Hours,” “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Thirty Days.”   

Keith Richards of the Stones, a big fan, said, “Chuck Berry always was the epitome of rhythm and blues playing, rock ’n’ roll playing. It was beautiful and effortless, and his timing was perfection. He is rhythm supreme. He plays that lovely double-string stuff, which I got down a long time ago but I’m still getting the hang of. Later I realized why he played that way — because of the sheer physical size of the guy. I mean, he makes one of those big Gibsons look like a ukulele!”

His 1972 album The London Chuck Berry Sessions, featuring a who’s who of British rock royalty went gold within a month, selling more than 500,000 copies. It featured both studio and live recordings with such songs as “Let’s Boogie,” “I Love You,” “Johnny B. Goode” and “My Ding a Ling,” a late-period hit written and first recorded by Dave Bartholomew. The novelty song about his private part became his only No. 1 pop hit on both the Billboard and U.K. pop charts. 

Berry fought a number of legal situations that arised in his life. He was arrested in high school for stealing a car and robbing convenience stores. He received his GED in prison and was released at age 21. He was imprisoned under the Mann Act in the early 1960s for having sexual intercourse with a minor and in 1979 for tax evasion. He continued to make music behind bars, writing “Thirty Days,” “Nadine” and “No Particular Place to Go.” 

Expressing his disagreement with the charges, “Thirty Days” included the lyrics, “If I don’t get no satisfaction from the judge/I’m gonna take it to the FBI and voice my grudge/If they don’t give me no consolation/I’m gonna take it to the United Nations/I’m gonna see that you be back home in 30 days.” 

Bands like the Stones, Beach Boys (basing “Surfing U.S.A.” on his “Sweet Little Sixteen”) and Beatles covered his songs, allowing him to remain relevant to the music world, and he signed with Mercury Records in the mid-1960s. He released five albums on the label and toured on the success of his earlier hits. He quickly built a bad reputation during his live shows by hiring spur-of-the-moment backup bands, somehow thinking they’d know each lick of his music.  

Bruce Springsteen and Steve Miller occasionally performed live with Berry. Springsteen and the E Street Band backed Berry during his performance of “Johnny B. Goode” and “Rock and Roll Music” at his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

Director Taylor Hackford captured Berry’s 60th birthday in the 1986 documentary Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll, where he famously clashed with his protégé Richards. Those who appeared in the film included Diddley, Lennon, Lewis and Little Richard, all of whom revealed personal stories and relationships with him. Berry performed concerts that same year with a number of artists including Linda RonstadtEtta JamesJulian LennonRobert Cray and Johnson, his original mentor.

Rolling Stone ranked his compilation album The Great Twenty-Eight as No. 21 on its list of “500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” with six of his songs included on their “500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” including “Johnny B. Goode” (No. 7),  “Maybelline” (No. 18), “Roll Over Beethoven” (No. 97), “Rock and Roll Music” (No. 128), “Sweet Little Sixteen” (No. 272) and “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” (No. 374).

In 2012, Berry reported to Rolling Stone that “My singing days have passed. My voice is gone. My throat is worn. And my lungs are going fast. I think that explains it.” He continued to perform, though his shows featured little more than his trusty Gibson and those hastily assembled back-up bands.

In his 2011 autobiography, Life, Richards wrote: “The beautiful thing about Chuck Berry’s playing was it had such an effortless swing. None of this sweating and grinding away and grimacing… just pure, effortless swing, like a lion.”

READ MORE

Views: 103

Replies to This Discussion

RSS

"Destroying the New World Order"

THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING THE SITE!

mobile page

12160.info/m

12160 Administrators

 

TOP CONTENT THIS WEEK

Latest Activity

Mrs. Tif Morgan replied to Chris of the family Masters's discussion New Zealand heads into monetary madness to save banks
"Best of luck on this issue....New Zealander's need to follow suit with the French and burn the…"
19 minutes ago
Mrs. Tif Morgan replied to Mrs. Tif Morgan's discussion Central Bankers Warn of Chaos in a Cashless Society: by Laurens Cerulus and Cat Contigugli
"I have a better idea, Burn the banks to the ground, reclaim our independence from the Khazar. Do…"
23 minutes ago
Mrs. Tif Morgan replied to Mrs. Tif Morgan's discussion Jeffrey Epstein Was Given Three 12 Yr Old Girls to Abuse As A Birthday Gift, Unsealed Court Documents Claim
"The Rothschild's are Khazar, how did they obtain Jewish blood, in the beginning they were not…"
28 minutes ago
Nigel joined truth's group
37 minutes ago
Boris commented on Boris's status
"CNN Hires FBI Architect of ‘Soft Coup’, Identified Leaker and IG Defined Liar, as…"
41 minutes ago
Diana's discussion was featured

COLLEGE STUDENT ARRESTED, Banned From Campus For PRE-CRIME, Firearms Seized, After Anonymous Tip About Meme He Posted On Social Media

RED-ALARM Red-Flag law alert!Brandon Wagshol a 22-year-old student at Central Connecticut State…See More
52 minutes ago
Boris commented on Diana's photo
Thumbnail

lol

"dude stole my idea"
53 minutes ago
Phyllis Maka commented on Phyllis Maka's blog post UNBELIEVABLE HOW THEY CLONED THIS DEAD THING BACK TO LIFE/ How These Lying Pricks CHEAT US OUT OF OUR LIVING EARTH like hell they will NOT !!
"These fascist nazi pigs are not of this living planet, earth, somehow or rather the whole lot of…"
1 hour ago
oldranger_68 commented on oldranger_68's blog post Israeli Holocaust Museum: there is no physical evidence of the holocaust
"Whew, I was worried.  I have weathered the flames of many flamethrowers, though.  Think…"
1 hour ago
Burbia commented on oldranger_68's blog post Israeli Holocaust Museum: there is no physical evidence of the holocaust
"You should be fine. Some people are more flammable than others."
1 hour ago
Burbia commented on Phyllis Maka's blog post UNBELIEVABLE HOW THEY CLONED THIS DEAD THING BACK TO LIFE/ How These Lying Pricks CHEAT US OUT OF OUR LIVING EARTH like hell they will NOT !!
"This points out the rival factions in power. If the Comb Over were in line with Pant Suit, there…"
1 hour ago
Burbia replied to Mrs. Tif Morgan's discussion Jeffrey Epstein Was Given Three 12 Yr Old Girls to Abuse As A Birthday Gift, Unsealed Court Documents Claim
"And the real controllers are names we never heard. The Caucus Mountains have over 240,000 Jews with…"
1 hour ago
oldranger_68 commented on oldranger_68's blog post Israeli Holocaust Museum: there is no physical evidence of the holocaust
"Maybe I need asbestos underwear."
1 hour ago
Burbia commented on oldranger_68's blog post Israeli Holocaust Museum: there is no physical evidence of the holocaust
1 hour ago
Boris favorited Phyllis Maka's blog post NEW DRONE VIDEO FROM PEDO ISLAND - Jim Stone
1 hour ago
Burbia commented on KLC's group MUSICWARS
"lyrics: Some People Like Candy Some People Like Cofee But These Lifeless Flavors Don't…"
1 hour ago

© 2019   Created by truth.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

content and site copyright 12160.info 2007-2019 - all rights reserved. unless otherwise noted