According to a U.S. state of Missouri report (via Facebook
) medics arrived at the home of the music legend Chick Berry, in St. Charles County, to find the singer-musician unresponsive. A few hours later Chuck Berry, the BBC states
, was pronounce dead. The police and medical services arrived at 12:40 local time and the announcement of death was made at 1:26 p.m. The police report runs
: "The St. Charles County Police Department sadly confirms the death of Charles Edward Anderson Berry Sr., better known as legendary musician Chuck Berry."
Chuck Berry was a music pioneer, and two numbers in his repertoire are firmly cemented in the iconography of rock music: Roll Over Beethoven
, Sweet Little Sixteen
and Johnny B. Goode
. Still active in recent months, Berry planned to release is first album in nearly four decades. Late last year Berry said his new recording will be dedicated to his wife of 68 years, Themetta (affectionately known as "Toddy"). A few months ago Berry said
: "My darlin’ I’m growing old! I’ve worked on this record for a long time. Now I can hang up my shoes!"
As a rock innovator, Chuck Berry was known for his indelible guitar licks, strong vocals, brash self-confidence, aided by memorable songs about cars, girls and wild dance parties. His early recordings, along with those of Elvis Presley did as much to define rock ’n’ roll’s potential and attitude in its early years. He also paved the way for much of modern music. Arguably, without Berry, there would be no The Beatles, The Rolling Stones of The Beach Boys.
The New York Times sums up Berry's style neatly
: "guitar lines wired the lean twang of country and the bite of the blues into phrases with both a streamlined trajectory and a long memory."
Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry was born on October 18, 1926
in St. Louis, Missouri. His early rock and roll songs - Maybellene
(1955, selling sold over a million copies), Roll Over Beethoven
(1956), Rock and Roll Music
(1957) and Johnny B. Goode
(1958) - broke new ground and he was pivotal to the transition from big bands to rock music and the creation of the teenager. Berry introduced lyrics that placed teen life and consumerism at the center, together with danceable tunes and having guitar solos in key places in many of his tracks.
By the 1970s Berry's chart-topping recording faded and he became a successful live performer. These middle years were interspersed with controversy, such as serving 120 days in prison for tax evasion (although this paled somewhat to the 1962 sentence afforded to him: three years in prison for offenses relating to transporting a 14-year-old girl across a state line, allegedly for "immoral purposes"). In later years Berry's innovative place in the pantheon of music was acknowledged an he was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986.