Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry: Music legend given rock ‘n’ roll sendoff

Family, friends and fans paid their final respects to the rock `n’ roll legend Chuck Berry on Sunday, celebrating the life and career of a man who inspired countless guitarists and bands. The celebration began with a public viewing at The Pageant, a music club in Berry’s hometown of St. Louis where he often played. Hundreds of fans filed past Berry, whose beloved cherry-red Gibson guitar was bolted to the inside of his coffin’s lid. “I am here because Chuck Berry meant a lot to anybody who grew up on rock n’ roll,” said Wendy Mason, who drove in from Kansas City, Kan., for the visitation. “The music will live on forever.” Another fan, Nick Hair, brought his guitar with him from Nashville, Tenn., so he could play Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” while waiting in line outside. After the public viewing, family and friends packed the club for a private funeral service and celebration of Berry, who inspired generations of musicians, from humble garage bands up to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. The service was expected to include live music, and the Rev. Alex I. Peterson told the gathering they would be celebrating Berry’s life in rock `n roll style. Former President Bill Clinton sent a letter that was read at the funeral by U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay because Berry played at both of Clinton’s presidential inaugurations. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Clinton called Berry “one of America’s greatest rock and roll pioneers.” “He captivated audiences around the world,” Bill Clinton wrote. “His music spoke to the hopes and dreams we all had in common. Me and Hillary grew up listening to him.” Gene Simmons of the rock band KISS wasn’t scheduled to speak but someone urged him to take the podium. Simmons said Berry had a tremendous influence on him as a musician, and he worked to break down racial barriers through his music. Paul McCartney and Little Richard both sent notes of condolences. At the end of the funeral, a brass band played “St. Louis Blues” while Berry’s casket was carried out. When Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards spoke about Berry at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 1986 induction ceremony — Berry was the first person inducted from that inaugural class — he said Berry was the one who started it all. That sentiment was echoed Sunday by David Letterman’s former band leader, Paul Shaffer, who spoke to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch outside the club. “Anyone who plays rock `n’ roll was inspired by him,” Shaffer said. Berry’s standard repertoire included about three-dozen songs, including “Johnny B. Goode,” “Sweet Little Sixteen” and “Roll Over Beethoven.” His songs have been covered by country, pop and rock artists such as AC/DC and Buck Owens, and his riffs live on in countless songs. The head of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Greg Harris, said “anybody who’s picked up a guitar has been influenced by him.” Well before the rise of Bob Dylan, Berry wedded social commentary to the beat and rush of popular music. “He was singing good lyrics, and intelligent lyrics, in the `50s when people were singing, “Oh, baby, I love you so,”‘ John Lennon once observed. “Everything I wrote about wasn’t about me, but about the people listening,” Berry once said.

Sounds like Chuck had a great send off in St. Louis.  As many of you know, that’s where I’m originally from.  St. Louis has a rich music heritage and culture…and Chuck is part of that great music heritage in the Gateway city.  Thanks for the tunes, Chuck.  R.I.P.

Chuck Berry, one of the all-time rock ‘n’ roll greats, dead at 90

Rock ‘n’ roll icon and musical master Chuck Berry died Saturday at his home west of St. Louis, Missouri, authorities confirmed. He was 90. The guitarist and musican defined the art form’s joy and rebellion in such classics as “Johnny B. Goode,” ”Sweet Little Sixteen” and “Roll Over Beethoven” in a career that spanned 7 decades and earned him countless accolades. Emergency personnel summoned to Berry’s residence by his caretaker about 12:40 p.m. found him unresponsive, police in Missouri’s St. Charles County said in a statement. Attempts to revive Berry failed, and he was pronounced dead shortly before 1:30 p.m., police said. A police spokeswoman, Val Joyner, said she had no additional details about the death of Berry, calling him “really a legend.” Berry’s core repertoire was some three dozen songs, his influence incalculable, from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to virtually any group from garage band to arena act that called itself rock ‘n roll. While Elvis Presley gave rock its libidinous, hip-shaking image, Berry was the auteur, setting the template for a new sound and way of life. Well before the rise of Bob Dylan, Berry wedded social commentary to the beat and rush of popular music. “He was singing good lyrics, and intelligent lyrics, in the ’50s when people were singing, “Oh, baby, I love you so,'” John Lennon once observed. Berry, in his late 20s before his first major hit, crafted lyrics that spoke to the teenagers of the day and remained fresh decades later. “Sweet Little Sixteen” captured rock ‘n’ roll fandom, an early and innocent ode to the young girls later known as “groupies.” ”School Day” told of the sing-song trials of the classroom (“American history and practical math; you’re studying hard, hoping to pass…”) and the liberation of rock ‘n’ roll once the day’s final bell rang. “Roll Over Beethoven” was an anthem to rock’s history-making power, while “Rock and Roll Music” was a guidebook for all bands that followed (“It’s got a back beat, you can’t lose it”). “Back in the U.S.A.” was a black man’s straight-faced tribute to his country at a time there was no guarantee Berry would be served at the drive-ins and corner cafes he was celebrating. “Everything I wrote about wasn’t about me, but about the people listening,” he once said. “Johnny B. Goode,” the tale of a guitar-playing country boy whose mother tells him he’ll be a star, was Berry’s signature song, the archetypal narrative for would-be rockers and among the most ecstatic recordings in the music’s history. Berry can hardly contain himself as the words hurry out (“Deep down Louisiana close to New Orleans/Way back up in the woods among the evergreens”) and the downpour of guitar, drums and keyboards amplifies every call of “Go, Johnny Go!” The song was inspired in part by Johnnie Johnson, the boogie-woogie piano master who collaborated on many Berry hits, but the story could have easily been Berry’s, Presley’s or countless others’.

Indeed..  To read the rest of this tribute to former St. Louis native, and musical icon, Chuck Berry, click on the text above.  Thanks for the tunes, Chuck.  R.I.P.