ROCK LEGEND CHUCK BERRY PASSES AWAY AT AGE 90
Chuck Berry, a rock ’n’ roll pioneer whose influence was felt (and cited) by bands like the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, and the Kinks passed away on Saturday at his home in Missouri. He was 90 years old.
Berry—who famously penned hits like “Maybellene,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” and “Johnny B Goode”—combined a singularly captivating stage presence with his own blend of jazz, blues, and country, all of which came to define the then-fledgling rock ’n’ roll genre. (Among his other bonafides: punching Keith Richards in the face and being dubbed the musical movement’s spiritual godfather by no less than John Lennon, who said: “If you tried to give rock ’n’ roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry.”) Berry received a lifetime achievement Grammy in 1984, and was among the first inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. His 1958 song “Johnny B Goode” is among those recorded on the Voyager Golden Record, and in an article for The New York Times Magazine in 2016, Chuck Klosterman argued that he may in fact one day be remembered as rock ’n’ roll’s most important musician: “Chuck Berry’s persona is the purest distillation of what we understand rock music to be,” writes Klosterman. “The songs he made are essential, but secondary to who he was and why he made them. He is the idea itself.”
Berry had planned to release his first album in nearly four decades this year; entitled Chuck, it had been recorded in his hometown of St. Louis with his longtime backing group, which includes his children Charles Berry Jr. and Ingrid Berry. In a statement to ABC, the musician had dedicated the album to his wife of 68 years, Themetta Berry. “My darlin’ I’m growing old! I’ve worked on this record for a long time. Now I can hang up my shoes!”