Chuck Berry, one of the most popular rock ‘n roll and R&B singers of the 1950s to ’70s, died on Saturday, March 18, 2017. He passed at his home near Wentzville, MO. Berry was 90 years old.
Berry, often considered the “father of rock ‘n roll” began making hits in the ’50s with songs like “Johnny B. Goode” and later with the No. 1 song “My Ding-a-Ling” in 1972. He was born on October 18, 1926, in St. Louis, MO. During his childhood, Berry pursued several hobbies from carpentry to photography. He showed early talent for music and started singing in the church choir when he was six years old.
During a talent show at his school he sang “Confessin’ the Blues” while a friend played the guitar. The students loved it, sparking Berry’s interest in learning how to play guitar. During his teen years, he got into some trouble, dropping out of school when he was 17 years old. He and a few friends robbed a few stores and stole a car, then they were apprehended by police. He served three years in a reformatory facility.
In the late ’40s he joined a few bands and played in nightclubs around St. Louis. They played everything from jazz to upbeat country to pop music. In early 1955 he met with Chess Records, then wrote and recorded “Maybellene,” which hit No. 1 on R&B charts and No. 5 on pop charts within months. Many music historians consider that song to be the first true rock ‘n roll song.
Berry produced a bunch of hits after that, such as “Roll Over, Beethoven,” “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man,” and “Too Much Monkey Business.” Then in the late ’50s “Sweet Little Sixteen” and “Carol” joined “Johnny B. Goode” as Top 10 hits on pop charts. In the ’60s, Berry’s hits included “Nadine,” “Dear Dad,” “You Can Never Tell,” and “Promised Land.”
In ’85 he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, then a year later he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He continued performing through the 1990s.