Reading stories about celebrity deaths never gets easier, especially when they’re about someone as talented as Chuck Berry. The Missouri-born guitarist and singer-songwriter passed away at the age of 90 on March 18. The reason for his death is still unknown, but his son, Charles Jr., hinted that his father was struggling with pneumonia.
We’re not about to discuss his death when he has lived an amazing musical life so…
The Founding Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll
Even if you’re not familiar with Chuck Berry, you probably know The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Beach Boys. These musicians were all inspired by his unique sound and worked that into their own music. In The Beatles’ earlier days, they would perform covers of Chuck Berry songs. Some of the Fab Four’s music that were clearly influenced by Berry are “Get Back” and “Come Together”. The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Keith Richards bonded over their love for the singer. The band’s first ever single, “Come On”, was heavily inspired by the vocals in Berry’s “Maybellene”. The Beach Boys’ famous “Surfin’ USA” is actually just Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen” with different lyrics.
The rock ‘n’ roll sound isn’t the only thing Chuck Berry helped make. He also invented the duck walk, a popular move that guitarists still use to this day. And don’t even get me started on the rock’n’roll attitude! I think John Lennon said it best:
“If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’”.
Even in his old age, he still rocked his heart out. In 2010, he performed of 10,000 people at the Viva Las Vegas open-air concert. He also graced the walls of St. Louis restaurant, Blueberry Hill, once a month. October 2014 marked his 209th consecutive performance there. His audience wasn’t just his older fans, mind you. There were some people who were young enough to be his great-grandkids, which only proves that his music is timeless.
Growing Up with Rock ‘n’ Roll
When I was growing up, my parents would play music from their childhood. Chuck Berry’s albums were a regular. I remember singing along to “Rock & Roll Music” and “Roll Over Beethoven” during long car rides. Hearing about his loss was truly heartbreaking. Even though I never met him, Chuck Berry and his music were a big part of my life.
So this week, let’s honor one of the founding fathers of rock’n’roll. Give his songs a listen and see just how much this humble Missouri man has shaped an entire genre of music.
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