Charles Edward Anderson Berry was born in St. Louis, Missouri on 18 october 1926.
About his exact birth date there quite some confusion, but most sources
keep on October 18, 1926.
Chuck Berry, known as the "father of rock and roll," has been a major influence on popular music.
Even though his career and life reached great peaks and declined to low valleys, he still prevails in music
while his contemporaries have vanished.
"If there were a single fountainhead for rock guitar, Chuck Berry would be it," wrote Gene Santoro in
Indeed, the list of artists influenced by the "father of rock and roll" is nearly endless.
From the Beach Boys and the Beatles to Jimi Hendrix and on to Van Halen and Stevie Ray Vaughan,
every popular musician knows the impact that Chuck Berry has had on popular music.
As Eric Clapton stated, there's really no other way to play rock and roll.
Berry self was inspired by guitar players as Muddy Waters, Charlie Christian, Elmore James
(king of the slide guitar), Carl Hogan and Chester Arthur Burnett (Howlin' Wolf).
Chuck Berry was a stylistic innovator in his head from the very beginning, a man who worshipped
Nat King Cole and Muddy Waters with equal fervor.
Berry took up the guitar after that, inspired by his partner in the school production. He found that if he
learned rhythm changes and blues chords, he could play most of the popular songs on the radio at the time.
His friend, Ira Harris, showed him techniques on the guitar that would become the foundation of Berry's
It was in 1953 that Chuck Berry joined the Sir John's Trio (eventually renamed Chuck Berry Combo),
which played the popular Cosmopolitan Club in St. Louis. Country-western music was big at the time,
so Berry decided to use some of the riffs and create his own unique hillbilly sound. The black audience
thought he was crazy at first, but couldn't resist trying to dance along with it. Since country was popular
with white people, they began to come to the shows, and the audience was at some points almost 40
percent white. Berry's stage show antics were getting attention, but the other band members did their
parts as well. In his own words: "I would slur my strings to make a passage that Johnnie (Johnson) could
not produce with piano keys but the answer would be so close that he would get a tremendous ovation.
His answer would sound similar to some that Jerry Lee Lewis's fingers later began to flay.
Chuck's famous duck walk
Later in 1955, Berry went on a road trip to Chicago, where he chanced upon a club where his idol,
Muddy Waters, was performing. He arrived late and only heard the last song, but when it was over he got
the attention of Waters and asked him who to see about making a record. Waters replied, "Yeah, Leonard
Chess. Yeah, Chess Records over on Forty-seventh and Cottage." Berry went there on Monday and
discovered it was a blues label where greats like Howlin' Wolf and Bo Diddley recorded. He didn't have
any tapes to show, but Chess was willing to listen if he brought some back from St. Louis. So Berry went
home and recorded some originals, including the would-be "Maybellene," then called "Ida May," and drove
back to Chicago later that week to audition. Much to Berry's surprise, it was that hillbilly number that
caught Chess' attention. Berry was signed to Chess Records and in the summer of 1955, "Maybellene"
reached #5 on the Pop Charts and #1 on the R&B Charts. Through Chuck Berry, Chess Records moved
from the R&B genre into the mainstream and Berry himself was on his way to stardom.
Berry continued his success with such hits as "Brown-Eyed Man," "Too Much Monkey Business,"
"Memphis," "Roll Over, Beethoven!" and "Johnny B. Goode." "Johnny B. Goode" is Berry's masterpiece,
as it brought together all the elements of Berry's unique musical sound. It cemented his place in rock history
and led to fame in the 1950s. His popularity garnered him television and movie appearances and he toured
Chuck's favorite guitar is a Gibson ES335 but also he loves the Gibson ES350 and
Chuck Berry has learned a generation of musicians that the basis of good rock 'n' roll is formed by a trio or quartet, with as main instrument, the electric guitar.
"If you tried to give rock 'n' roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'", were the words of John Lennon.
This one liner is maybe the best summary of the phenomenon and sound of Chuck Berry.
On March 18, 2017 Chuck Berry died in Wentzville, Missouri on the age of 90 years.