Chuck Berry dies at 90
He was nearly 30 by then, but while he came from a background of jazz, blues, big bands, R&B, country, pop and Latin music, he and his pianist Johnnie Johnson distilled all that into songs that riffed on the life of a teenager. Maybellene reworked the country song Ida Red and rose into the top 10 of the national pop charts, a rare achievement for a black artist at that time. Berry wrote in a memoir that his music label, Chess, "couldn't believe that a. hillbilly song could be written and sung by a black guy".
Berry was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, shortly after it was established in 1983, and countless rock stars who've followed him have named him one of their greatest influences.
In addition to the band statement, Stones lead singer Mick Jagger and guitarists Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood offered individual remembrances of Berry.
"Brown Eyed Handsome Man" was one of the songs performed by Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley at Sun Records in Memphis during an informal jam session that became known as the "Million Dollar Quartet".
It's tempting, but an oversimplification, to view Berry as a musical bridge between early rhythm-and-blues and the 1960s rock explosion.
Using a mere three chords, syncopated with his lefty pinky forever reaching down and tapping the neck of his Gibson guitar, the son of St. Louis not only redefined music, but the very power and possibility of youth. But his music attracted fans of all ethnicities. They got in trouble before they hit the state line. "I've been performing his "Sweet Little Rock & Roller" since 1974 and tonight, when my band and I perform it at Caesars Palace's Colosseum, it'll be for Chuck Berry - your sound lives on".
He was one of the pioneers of rock and roll music and was born in St. Louis in October 1926.
"Chuck Berry was rock's greatest practitioner, guitarist, and the greatest pure rock "n" roll writer who ever lived", the Glory Days singer said in a tweet.
There's plenty more that can, and will, be said about Berry as the world reflects on his legacy following his death. "When he was over, I went up to him, I asked him for his autograph and told him that I played guitar".
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