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Chuck Berry - Wikipedia

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Chuck Berry
Image (Asset 2/17) alt= St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Died March 18, 2017 (aged 90)
Wentzville, Missouri, U.S.
Genres Rock and roll
Occupation(s) Musician, singer, songwriter
Instruments Guitar, vocals
Years active 1953–2017
Labels Chess, Mercury, Atco, Dualtone
Associated acts Johnnie Johnson, T-Bone Walker, Muddy Waters
Website www.chuckberry.com

Charles Edward Anderson Berry (October 18, 1926 – March 18, 2017) was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. With songs such as "Maybellene" (1955), "Roll Over Beethoven" (1956), "Rock and Roll Music" (1957) and "Johnny B. Goode" (1958), Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive. Writing lyrics that focused on teen life and consumerism, and developing a music style that included guitar solos and showmanship, Berry was a major influence on subsequent rock music.[1]

Born into a middle-class African-American family in St. Louis, Missouri, Berry had an interest in music from an early age and gave his first public performance at Sumner High School. While still a high school student he was convicted of armed robbery and was sent to a reformatory, where he was held from 1944 to 1947. After his release, Berry settled into married life and worked at an automobile assembly plant. By early 1953, influenced by the guitar riffs and showmanship techniques of the blues musician T-Bone Walker, Berry began performing with the Johnnie Johnson Trio.[2] His break came when he traveled to Chicago in May 1955 and met Muddy Waters, who suggested he contact Leonard Chess, of Chess Records. With Chess, he recorded "Maybellene"—Berry's adaptation of the country song "Ida Red"—which sold over a million copies, reaching number one on Billboard magazine's rhythm and blues chart.[3] By the end of the 1950s, Berry was an established star, with several hit records and film appearances and a lucrative touring career. He had also established his own St. Louis nightclub, Berry's Club Bandstand.[4] But in January 1962, he was sentenced to three years in prison for offenses under the Mann Act—he had transported a 14-year-old girl across state lines.[2][5][6] After his release in 1963, Berry had several more hits, including "No Particular Place to Go", "You Never Can Tell", and "Nadine". But these did not achieve the same success, or lasting impact, of his 1950s songs, and by the 1970s he was more in demand as a nostalgic performer, playing his past hits with local backup bands of variable quality.[2] His insistence on being paid in cash led in 1979 to a four-month jail sentence and community service, for tax evasion.

Berry was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986; he was cited for having "laid the groundwork for not only a rock and roll sound but a rock and roll stance."[7] Berry is included in several of Rolling Stone magazine's "greatest of all time" lists; he was ranked fifth on its 2004 and 2011 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.[8] The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll includes three of Berry's: "Johnny B. Goode", "Maybellene", and "Rock and Roll Music".[9] Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" is the only rock-and-roll song included on the Voyager Golden Record.[10]

Biography and career

1926–1954: Early life and apprenticeship with Johnnie Johnson

Born in St. Louis, Missouri,[11] Berry was the fourth child in a family of six. He grew up in the north St. Louis neighborhood known as the Ville, an area where many middle-class people lived. His father, Henry William Berry (1895–1987)[12], was a contractor and deacon of a nearby Baptist church; his mother, Martha Bell (Banks) (1894–1980), was a certified public school principal.[13] Berry's upbringing allowed him to pursue his interest in music from an early age. He gave his first public performance in 1941 while still a student at Sumner High School;[14] he was still a student there in 1944, when he was arrested for armed robbery after robbing three shops in Kansas City, Missouri, and then stealing a car at gunpoint with some friends.[15][16] Berry's account in his autobiography is that his car broke down and he flagged down a passing car and stole it at gunpoint with a nonfunctional pistol.[17] He was convicted and sent to the Intermediate Reformatory for Young Men at Algoa, near Jefferson City, Missouri,[11] where he formed a singing quartet and did some boxing.[15] The singing group became competent enough that the authorities allowed it to perform outside the detention facility.[18] Berry was released from the reformatory on his 21st birthday in 1947.

On October 28, 1948, Berry married Themetta "Toddy" Suggs, who gave birth to Darlin Ingrid Berry on October 3, 1950.[19] Berry supported his family by taking various jobs in St. Louis, working briefly as a factory worker at two automobile assembly plants and as a janitor in the apartment building where he and his wife lived. Afterwards he trained as a beautician at the Poro College of Cosmetology, founded by Annie Turnbo Malone.[20] He was doing well enough by 1950 to buy a "small three room brick cottage with a bath" on Whittier Street,[21] which is now listed as the Chuck Berry House on the National Register of Historic Places.[22]

By the early 1950s, Berry was working with local bands in clubs in St. Louis as an extra source of income.[20] He had been playing blues since his teens, and he borrowed both guitar riffs and showmanship techniques from the blues musician T-Bone Walker.[23] He also took guitar lessons from his friend Ira Harris, which laid the foundation for his guitar style.[24]

By early 1953 Berry was performing with Johnnie Johnson's trio, starting a long-time collaboration with the pianist.[25] The band played mostly blues and ballads, but the most popular music among whites in the area was country. Berry wrote, "Curiosity provoked me to lay a lot of our country stuff on our predominantly black audience and some of our black audience began whispering 'who is that black hillbilly at the Cosmo?' After they laughed at me a few times they began requesting the hillbilly stuff and enjoyed dancing to it."[11]

Berry's calculated showmanship, along with a mix of country tunes and R&B tunes, sung in the style of Nat King Cole set to the music of Muddy Waters, brought in a wider audience, particularly affluent white people.[2][26]

1955–1962: Signing with Chess: "Maybellene" to "Come On"

Image (Asset 3/17) alt= Chuck Berry Felt Ill on Stage in Chicago 01.01.2011. YouTube. January 1, 2011. Chuck Berry After Collapse in Chicago 01.01.2011 – On Stage Explaining What Happened. YouTube. January 1, 2011.
  • Jump up ^ "News Archive – October 2002". chuckberry.de. Retrieved June 6, 2010.
  • Jump up ^ "Chuck Berry, 90, announces first album in 38 years". The Guardian. October 18, 2016. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  • Jump up ^ Beck, Christina (October 31, 2016). "Chuck Berry to release new studio album at 90". The Christian Science Monitor: 8.
  • Jump up ^ Schabner, Dean; Rothman, Michael (March 18, 2017). "Legendary musician Chuck Berry dead at 90". ABC News. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  • Jump up ^ "Rock and roll legend Chuck Berry dies". BBC News. March 18, 2017. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  • Jump up ^ "Chuck Berry's death: Cops responded to cardiac arrest call". tmz.com. March 20, 2017. Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  • Jump up ^ "Funeral held for music legend Chuck Berry in St. Louis". UPI.com. Retrieved 2017-06-14.
  • Jump up ^ "Chuck Berry Remembered in Rock 'n' Roll Style". NBC News. Retrieved 2017-06-14.
  • Jump up ^ Lees, Jaime (2017-04-10). "Chuck Berry Gets a Loving Goodbye from the City He Always Called Home | Music Blog". Riverfronttimes.com. Retrieved 2017-06-14.
  • Jump up ^ http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/legal-and-management/7735739/chuck-berry-left-behind-17-million-in-music-assets
  • Jump up ^ http://www.billboard.com/articles/business/7980738/chuck-berry-us-publishing-dualtone-isalee-music
  • Jump up ^ "Chuck Berry Biography". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
  • Jump up ^ John Pareles (March 18, 2017). "Chuck Berry, Rock 'n' Roll Pioneer, Dies at 90". The New York Times.
  • Jump up ^ Joe Lynch (March 18, 2017). "Chuck Berry Didn't Invent Rock 'n' Roll, But He Turned It Into an Attitude That Changed the World". The Hollywood Reporter.
  • Jump up ^ Miller, James (1999). Flowers in the Dustbin: The Rise of Rock and Roll, 1947–1977. Simon & Schuster. p. 104. ISBN 0-684-80873-0.
  • Jump up ^ Wilkins, Jack; Rubie, Peter (2007). Essential Guitar. David & Charles. p. 68. ISBN 9780715327333. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
  • Jump up ^ Phillips, Mark; Chappell, Jon (May 23, 2011). Guitar for Dummies. John Wiley & Sons. p. 1. ISBN 9781118054734. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
  • Jump up ^ Gulla, p. 31.
  • Jump up ^ Berry, Chuck (1988). The Autobiography. New York: Fireside, Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-67159-6.
  • Jump up ^ Chuck Berry biography Archived December 4, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. at Thomson Gale
  • Jump up ^ "Robert Christgau: Chuck Berry". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved February 18, 2010.
  • Jump up ^ "QUOTES – The Official Site of Chuck Berry". Archived from the original on March 14, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2014.
  • Jump up ^ Kitts, Jeff (2002). Brad Tolinski, ed. Guitar World Presents the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time!: From the Pages of Guitar World Magazine. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Hal Leonard. p. 191. ISBN 0-634-04619-5. OCLC 50292711. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
  • Jump up ^ Trott, Bill (March 19, 2017). "Rock 'n' roll pioneer Chuck Berry dead at 90". Thomson Reuters. Reuters. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
  • Jump up ^ Wamsley, Laurel (March 19, 2017). "Tributes To Chuck Berry Pour In: 'One Of My Big Lights Has Gone Out'". NPR. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
  • Jump up ^ Chuck Berry, 1972, interview by Charles Osgood, re-broadcast, CBS Sunday Morning, September 25, 2016
  • Jump up ^ "President Bill Clinton recognizing Chuck Berry, 12-3-2000". C-SPAN. December 3, 2000. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  • Jump up ^ "Lifetime Achievement Award". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on February 6, 2010. Retrieved June 4, 2010.
  • Jump up ^ "Kennedy Center: Biographical Information for Chuck Berry". kennedy-center.org. Archived from the original on March 23, 2015. Retrieved February 18, 2010.
  • Jump up ^ "The 10 Greatest Electric-Guitar Players". Time. August 14, 2009. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  • Jump up ^ "BMI ICON Awards Honor Three of Rock & Roll's Founding Fathers". bmi.com. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  • Jump up ^ Brown, Mark (August 26, 2014). "Rock'n'Roll Pioneer Chuck Berry Wins Polar Music Prize in Sweden". The Guardian. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  • Jump up ^ "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". Rolling Stone. Web.archive.org. May 5, 2008. Archived from the original on April 17, 2010. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
  • Jump up ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 2003. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
  • Jump up ^ Perry, Joe (March 24, 2004). "Chuck Berry". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  • Jump up ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. classic-web.archive.org. Archived from the original on April 17, 2010. Retrieved May 17, 2011.
  • Jump up ^ "The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 5, 2008. Retrieved June 4, 2010.
  • Jump up ^ Klosterman, Chuck (May 23, 2016). "Which Rock Star Will Rock Historians of the Future Remember?". The New York Times. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  • Jump up ^ Cliff Richards (April 3, 2017). "Chuck Berry Rock 'n' Roll Icon". Time. p. 19.
  • Sources
    • Pegg, Bruce (2003). Brown Eyed Handsome Man: The Life and Hard Times of Chuck Berry. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-93751-5.

    Further reading

    External links

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