Singer, songwriter and one of the founding fathers of Rock-‘n-roll Chuck Berry was found dead on Saturday at his home in Missouri. He was 90.
St. Charles County police announced the death in a Facebook post:
“St. Charles County police responded to a medical emergency on Buckner Road at approximately 12:40 p.m. today (Saturday, March 18). Inside the home, first responders observed an unresponsive man and immediately administered lifesaving techniques. Unfortunately, the 90-year-old man could not be revived and was pronounced deceased at 1:26 p.m.
“The St. Charles County Police Department sadly confirms the death of Charles Edward Anderson Berry Sr., better known as legendary musician Chuck Berry.
“The family requests privacy during this time of bereavement.”
— NASA (@NASA) March 19, 2017
In the mid-1950s, the singer-guitarist, known for such hit singles as “Sweet Little Sixteen,”, “Johnny B. Goode,” and “Roll Over Beethoven”, depictions of adolescence: school, cars, relationships, the onset of adulthood, showed for the first time that the music could mirror the experience of a generation.
Only Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber worked similar territory.
Berry’s successful career was conducted in a partnership with Leonard and Phil Chess of Chicago, owners of Chess Records.
The famed Chess brothers, Jewish immigrants who had been born in Poland, were one of very few label owners to work directly with black artists like Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf and Bo Diddley. Rather than finding white artists to record bleached versions of “race records.”
- Barry gave his first public performance at High School.
- While still in high school he was convicted of armed robbery. He was sent to a reformatory for 3 years.
- As young man he worked at an automobile assembly plant, as a carpenter and hairdresser.
- He went to prison for 3 years in 1962 for violating the Mann Act (transporting a minor across state lines for immoral purposes). He had transported across Texas lines a 14-year-old girl, who he met in Texas and hired to work in his St. Louis nightclub
- In the 1970s he went back to prison for tax evasion.
- In 1990 several women filed suit in claiming Berry had secretly videotaped them in bathrooms of his restaurants.
- Berry was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986.
- He was ranked fifth on f Rolling Stone 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
- in 2011 a bronze statue of Berry was unveiled near St. Louis, despite protests that it was inappropriate because of Berry’s criminal record.
Chuck Berry was rock’s greatest practitioner, guitarist, and the greatest pure rock ‘n’ roll writer who ever lived.
— Bruce Springsteen (@springsteen) March 18, 2017