“Well, I’m going to write a little letter and mail it to my local DJ.”
Keith Richards called is guitar work perfection.
And John Lennon once said, “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry.’”
“You invented rock and roll, didn’t you?”
“I’ll answer for him,” Lennon said. “He did.”
The father of rock and roll was born Charles Edward Anderson Berry in 1926.
Growing up in St. Louis, a local jazz artist taught him guitar.
Berry listened to big band, jazz, blues and country — a combination that would become the backbone of his rock style.
In 1952, he joined legendary blues pianist Johnny Johnson’s trio. Three years alter, he met his idol, Muddy Waters, who introduced him to the head of Chess Records.
The first demo he handed in was “Maybelline” — a song Rolling Stone credits with starting “rock and roll guitar.”
A string of hits followed. His pop-blues style was like no other — and neither was his guitar playing, with his signature double-string plucking and that famous duck walk.
His success started to fade in 1959, when he served time for “immoral reasons” involving an underage girl.
Then came the British invasion of the 1960s and while Berry himself wasn’t as visible.
His songs certainly were.
Berry performed sporadically in the decades that followed, and his last album of new material was released in 1979.
He also had more legal trouble with drug, abuse and tax evasion charges.
But despite that, he remained a legend.
In 1985, he was one of the first to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“It’s very difficult for me to talk about Chuck Berry because I lifted every lick he ever played!” Richards said
And in 2000, President Bill Clinton presented Berry with the Kennedy Center Honor and called him “one of the twentieth century’s most influential musicians.”
“We called it rock. We called it boogy-joogy. We called it rhythm and blues," Berry said. "Call it what you may — man, I play what I feel, and I love what I feel.”
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