Chuck Berry (October 18, 1926 - March 18, 2017) was a celebrated singer, guitarist, songwriter, and late 1950s rock & roll pioneer who became famous beginning in the mid 1950s. He created his own unique stamp on this then-emerging genre by combining elements of R&B, jump blues, and various country/western musical styles and by introducing a hard-driving electric guitar sound. A flamboyant performer with an onstage swagger, he was famous for his signature one-legged hop routine and "duck walk" dance moves. The countless bands and artists he influenced over the years include such top acts as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, and The Rolling Stones. In addition, he penned many oldies classics that have not only become rock & roll standards but also a permanent fixture of American pop culture.
Born Charles Edward Anderson Berry in St. Louis, Missouri, he began his decades-long music career as a teenager when he gave his first public performance at Sumner High School. By the early 1950s, he had begun performing with jazz pianist Johnnie Johnson as a part of his trio. A turning point came for Berry in 1955 when he met Muddy Waters who suggested he contact Chess Records, which led to his first record contract.
Chuck Berry burst onto the national scene that year with the rollicking "Maybellene" (1955), which topped the R&B charts and became a Top 10 Pop/Rock hit. His long string of hits also includes "Roll Over Beethoven" (1956), "Rock And Roll Music" (1957), "School Day" (1957), "Sweet Little Sixteen" (1958), "Johnny B. Goode" (1958), "Nadine (Is It You?)" (1964), "No Particular Place To Go" (1964), "You Never Can Tell" (1964), and the risque novelty tune, "My Ding-A-Ling" (1972). Three of his songs were inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame: "Maybellene," "Roll Over Beethoven," and "Johnny B. Goode" (in 1988, 1990, and 1999, respectively). His recording of "Johnny B. Goode" was included in NASA's Voyager Golden Records collection launched in 1977 aboard both Voyager spacecraft.
In 1986, Chuck Berry became among the first to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. His numerous other accolades included a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984 and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2000. He was made a laureate of the Polar Music Prize in 2014, and he was also included in a number of Rolling Stone magazine "Greatest Of All Time" lists. He appeared and performed in the movies, "Rock, Rock, Rock" (1956) and "Go, Johnny, Go!" (1959), and was the main subject of the 1987 documentary, "Hail! Hail! Rock 'N' Roll." He continued to tour and perform through the 2010s and completed his final album, "Chuck," in 2016.
- For more info about Chuck Berry's life and career, visit chuckberry.com.
- The New York Times remembers rock & roll pioneer Chuck Berry.
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- My Ding-A-Ling 1972
(This song topped the charts.)
- Nadine (Is It You?) 1964
- No Particular Place To Go 1964
- Reelin' & Rockin' 1972
(This song was previously a hit for the Dave Clark Five (1965).)
- You Never Can Tell 1964
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