Rock-n-Roll Father and King, Chuck Berry Dies at 90

Chuck Berry, Johnny B. Goode, Getty Images

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He is well known for the hit rock 'n' roll songs "Mayebellene", "Roll Over", "Beethoven" and "Johnny B. Goode", that launched and continued to shape his career and expand the music genre he created.

Known as the King and Father of Rock-n-Roll, he managed to appeal to all the racial groups and backgrounds, including white youths and his black core fans of the 1950s and 1960s, by mixing blues and R&B sounds with storytelling. The artist and entertainer with music talent, unique voice, and guitar skills that generations  of listeners and music lovers have loved with devotion has become silent. The father and king of rock-n-roll is Chuck Berry who died  Saturday at the age of 90.

His music crossed the racial divide in times when racial tensions were at their highest levels, during the Civil Rights Movement era. "I made records for people who would buy them. No color, no ethnic, no political - I don't want that, never did," Chuck Berry often said.

Chuck Berry, whose full name is Charles Anderson Edward Berry,  was born in the segregated city of St. Louis, Missouri on October 18, 1926. As a teen, he had stong interest in music at school and church, but his dreams were almost destroyed when he was sent to prison at 17 years old, for armed robberry.  He served three years at Intermediate Reformatory for Young Men outside of Jefferson, Missouri. He was released  on good behavior on October 18, 1947, his 21st birthday. He returned to St. Louis, and worked for his father's construction business and as a part-time  photographer and janitor. His life was eventful, as he was again arrested and spent 20 months in jail for "immoral behavior". Meanwhile he had married Themetta "Toddy" Suggs, with whom he would have four children.

His music carreer took off when, in 1955, he met Muddy Waters, the legendary ryhtm and blues musician, who introduced him to the recording studios Chess Records. His first single "Maybellene", considered as the first Rock-n-Roll song in history, reached No. 1 on the R&B charts and No. 5 on the pop charts.

Later on, other hits followed, including "Rolle Over Beethoven", "Brown-Eyed Handsome Man", "Too Much Monkey Business", "Sweet Little Sixteen" and "Carol" and, one of his iconic  songs of all times, "Johnny B. Goode" (listen on YouTube).

Chuch Berry was so successful that many famous Rock-n-Rolls singers and bands imitated him or joined the Rock-n-rolls wagon, he had rolled forward. These include the Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, and Elvis Presley.

In 1985, Chuck Berry received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1986, he was honored with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, becoming the first inductee.

Chuck Berry's love Themetta, his wife of 68 years, was inspirational. On October 18, 2016, on his 90th birthday, he announced plans to release a new album dedicated to Themetta, whom he called Toddy, saying: "This record is dedicated to my beloved Toddy. My darlin, I'm growing old! I've worked on this record for a long time. Now I can hang up my shoes!"

Chuck Berry has hang up his shoes forever, but he left us with a tresor of rock-n-roll hits, including his last album, "Rock It", released in 1979,  to help us keep his memory alive for generations to come.

 

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