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The “Father of Rock and Roll,” guitarist and singer-songwriter Chuck Berry, died Saturday at the age of 90, while surrounded by his family in Missouri.
With songs such as Maybellene, Roll Over Beethoven, (Gotta Be) Rock and Roll Music, and Johnny B. Goode, Berry took rhythm and blues basics and added distinctive guitar solos and showy onstage antics to lay the foundation of rock and roll.
Despite brushes with the law and years spent in prison, his music was a major influence on the rock icons of the future. Berry was in the first class of musicians 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.” (Remember Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future, when he strutted to “Johnny B. Goode” at the high school dance in 1955, and a member of the band called up his cousin “Chuck” to share the new sound?)
Berry is included in several of Rolling Stone magazine’s greatest-of-all-time lists, including being ranked fifth on “the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.” Johnny B. Goode was ranked 7th on the “Greatest Songs” list, voted on by people in the music business.
He got his first break, after moving to Chicago and meeting Muddy Waters, who told him to go to see the owner of Chess Records. In 1968, he wrote an autobiography about his life.
His forthcoming album CHUCK, which was originally announced on his 90th birthday, October 18, is due out this year. It will mark the first release by Berry in more than 30 years.
“Working to prepare the release of this record in recent months, and in fact over the last several years, brought Chuck a great sense of joy and satisfaction,” wrote his family in a note this weekend on the website, ChuckBerry.com.
7 Top Quotes by This Legendary Rebel Musician:
“I grew up thinking art was pictures until I got into music and found I was an artist and didn’t paint.”
“Don’t let the same dog bite you twice.”
“It’s amazing how much you can learn if your intentions are truly earnest.”
“I would sing the blues if I had the blues.”
“I’m a millionaire, but I cut the grass. And each time I cut it, it’s my grass. And that is satisfying.”
“This is my 1963 Ford. It was the only car I could A-Ford.”
“Praise doesn’t mean anything to me. I don’t judge myself.”
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Reprint (2012 Photo courtesy of ChuckBerry.com)