RIP, Chuck Berry

 

Rock and roll legend Chuck Berry has died at age 90. Police found him unresponsive in his St. Charles County, MO home Saturday and were unable to revive him. His work, however, will live on:

The rock legend had announced in October, on his 90th birthday that he was releasing a new album … In a statement, Berry dedicated the album to his wife of 68 years, Themetta Berry, whom he refers to by her nickname, “Toddy.”

“My darlin’ I’m growing old! I’ve worked on this record for a long time. Now I can hang up my shoes!” he said.

It’s a fitting way for the musician, best known for his unforgettable tunes including “Johnny B. Goode,” “Maybellene,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Sweet Little Sixteen,” “School Days,” “Rock and Roll Music,” “Back in the U.S.A.” and “Memphis, Tennessee,” to mark his birthday. With his catchy melodies, witty lyrics and trademark guitar riffs, Berry has had an immeasurable impact on rock music.

He directly influenced the early music of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys and The Kinks. Not surprisingly, Berry was among the first group of performers inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Among his many other accolades, Berry received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984, was recognized at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2000 and was presented with Sweden’s prestigious Polar Music Prize in 2014.

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Members have made 25 comments.

  1. Profile photo of Mike LaRoche Thatcher

    Roll over Beethoven, and tell Tchaikovsky the news.

    • #1
    • March 18, 2017 at 3:59 pm
  2. Profile photo of kelsurprise Member

    Our favorite “stay-at-home” night when I was a kid: Mom would make up a mess o’ root beer floats, dad would pull his old stack of ’45s out of the record cabinet and we’d have “dance night” in the living room.

    So although his first hits came out years before I was even born, Chuck Berry was one of the most memorable sounds of my childhood.

    I think I’ll give dad a call . . .

    • #2
    • March 18, 2017 at 4:24 pm
  3. Profile photo of Hoyacon Member

    Very sad news. Keith Richards may owe him a career.

    Many years ago, in between his periodic times in the limelight, Chuck was “touring” and came to DC. At that time, touring meant Chuck himself arrived in town and picked up local musicians to back him to save bucks. A buddy (a guitarist with an ego to match) and I went to the loosely-termed “audition” at the bar where he was playing, but took one look at the talent that wanted to just play with Chuck and immediately gave up. That night, Chuck stood in the corner of the bar (no stage) with about 30 people in attendance and played. The highlight was a slow 12-bar blues very unlike his standard repertoire, and I asked him why he didn’t do more of that. “That’s not why they pay me” was his gracious reply.

    • #3
    • March 18, 2017 at 4:37 pm
  4. Profile photo of Scott Abel Member

    Stop it, 2016!

    • #4
    • March 18, 2017 at 4:37 pm
  5. Profile photo of Goldwater's Revenge Member

    I’m lucky to have been around in the ’50s when Chuck Berry, Bo Diddly, Little Richard and Fats Domino were in their heyday. They were great artists whose music is still popular today. Maybelline, about a hot car race, was my Chuck Berry favorite.

    In contrast to today the lyrics were just clean fun. No sexual innuendos, nothing about ho’s, pigs, honkies and such. I expect few popular artists of today will be remembered sixty years from now.

    • #6
    • March 18, 2017 at 5:04 pm
  6. Profile photo of JcTPatriot Thatcher

    “You know my temperature’s risin’ and the jukebox’s blowin’ a fuse”

    I’m a Rocker, and have been for decades, and will be for decades.

    Everything I listen to has roots that first grew out of Chuck Berry’s imagination.

    “But he could play the guitar just like ringin’ a bell. Go Go!”

    • #7
    • March 18, 2017 at 5:14 pm
  7. Profile photo of Eustace C. Scrubb Member

    In 2007 there was a documentary called [email protected] about a choir leader teaching seniors to sing rock and roll. I thought the whole premise was strange because most of the seniors were younger than Chuck Berry.

    • #8
    • March 18, 2017 at 5:21 pm
  8. Profile photo of Quinn the Eskimo Member

    I did a post for his 90th birthday back in October. I could probably post clips of 30 different Chuck Berry songs and every one would be a classic. There is a credible argument to be made that he is the most important music figure of the second half of the 20th century and almost all rival candidates owe a musical debt to him.

    • #9
    • March 18, 2017 at 5:38 pm
  9. Profile photo of Blue Yeti Admin

    • #10
    • March 18, 2017 at 5:50 pm
  10. Profile photo of kelsurprise Member

    Called and gave dad the news.

    “Awwww, don’t tell me that . . . Chuck’s dead?”

    “Yeah, he was 90.”

    “He was NINETY!!? Okay, don’t tell me THAT.”

    Poor dad. I swear I didn’t call just to make him feel old.

    • #11
    • March 18, 2017 at 5:57 pm
  11. Profile photo of Hoyacon Member

    Quinn the Eskimo (View Comment):
    I did a post for his 90th birthday back in October. I could probably post clips of 30 different Chuck Berry songs and every one would be a classic. There is a credible argument to be made that he is the most important music figure of the second half of the 20th century and almost all rival candidates owe a musical debt to him.

    At the very least, there’s a very short list with him on it. In a sense, we owe the young Brit rockers of the early-mid 60’s a debt for keeping Chuck’s music alive after it had faded here.

    • #12
    • March 18, 2017 at 6:07 pm
  12. Profile photo of Blue Yeti Admin

    I like this:

    • #13
    • March 18, 2017 at 6:36 pm
  13. Profile photo of jef1944 Coolidge

    Brings back memories of my early teens. have always loved Johnny B Goode, it is quintessential Rock and Roll!!!

    Thought I’d lost my small 45 record collection, but found them hiding in my late husband office/man-cave. Among them was this:

    • #14
    • March 18, 2017 at 6:40 pm
  14. Profile photo of Jimmy Carter Member

    We All know where Chuck Berry got His riffs from…

    (the greatest Chuck Berry shoutout ever)

    R.I.P.

    • #15
    • March 18, 2017 at 6:41 pm
  15. Profile photo of Al Kennedy Member

    In addition to being the father of Rock and Roll, he was probably the greatest Rock and Roll guitarist who has ever lived. He was a true genius and his music will never die. The New York Post has a clip of Chuck doing Roll Over Beethoven at the height of his powers. (It’s towards the end of the article.) Enjoy true genius!

    • #17
    • March 19, 2017 at 4:30 am
  16. Profile photo of EDISONPARKS Member

    Love this one!

    I never even knew Chuck Berry wrote this tune until recently, it’s been covered by so many, for so long I just assumed it was some traditional Cajun song written by someone nobody ever heard of.

    (… Great quality video for 1972, leave it to the Germans)

    • #18
    • March 19, 2017 at 6:00 am
  17. Profile photo of JcTPatriot Thatcher

    I spotted this nice Tweet this morning.

    • #19
    • March 19, 2017 at 7:12 am
  18. Profile photo of ctlaw Thatcher

    Berry’s 1987 appearance on The Tonight Show was one of the greatest episodes in the show’s history. He took over the show, doing three songs. A decade after Elvis’s death, the music of the 1950s seemed long gone. Even the nostalgia of Grease and Happy Days were past. Back to the Future’s homage was the last we had heard about Berry. And then 30 years disappeared:

    • #20
    • March 19, 2017 at 7:45 am
  19. Profile photo of Benjamin Glaser Member

    Simply put.

    No Chuck Berry, no Rock n’ Roll.

    End of story.

    Chuck Berry is to Rock music what Martin Luther was to the German language.

    • #21
    • March 19, 2017 at 10:58 am
  20. Profile photo of Quinn the Eskimo Member

    I should probably include this, because it is a good contrast and it highlights how Chuck Berry changed the game. It’s Louis Jordan’s “Ain’t that Just Like a Woman.” It is the starting point for the “Johnny B. Goode” opening.

    Now, I like Louis Jordan and this song, but it feels like all of the intensity dissipates after the opening and it falls into a 1940s kind of mood. Chuck Berry just lights a rocket and lets it fly.

    Playing a few of the same notes doesn’t always yield the same results.

    • #22
    • March 20, 2017 at 10:29 am
  21. Profile photo of Al Kennedy Member

    Quinn the Eskimo (View Comment):
    I should probably include this, because it is a good contrast and it highlights how Chuck Berry changed the game. It’s Louis Jordan’s “Ain’t that Just Like a Woman.” It is the starting point for the “Johnny B. Goode” opening.

    Now, I like Louis Jordan and this song, but it feels like all of the intensity dissipates after the opening and it falls into a 1940s kind of mood. Chuck Berry just lights a rocket and lets it fly.

    Playing a few of the same notes doesn’t always yield the same results.

    Chuck Barry said that Louis Jordan had a big influence on him, a long with Muddy Waters and a host of others. Berry’s genius just created a whole new genre.

    • #23
    • March 20, 2017 at 8:52 pm
  22. Profile photo of Quinn the Eskimo Member

    Al Kennedy (View Comment):
    Chuck Barry said that Louis Jordan had a big influence on him, a long with Muddy Waters and a host of others. Berry’s genius just created a whole new genre.

    Louis Jordan was really close to doing it. It’s his tragedy really, even if he is the grandfather of rock and roll.

    • #24
    • March 21, 2017 at 6:32 am
  23. Profile photo of Al Kennedy Member

    Quinn the Eskimo (View Comment):

    Al Kennedy (View Comment):
    Chuck Barry said that Louis Jordan had a big influence on him, a long with Muddy Waters and a host of others. Berry’s genius just created a whole new genre.

    Louis Jordan was really close to doing it. It’s his tragedy really, even if he is the grandfather of rock and roll.

    Sad but true. He was never acknowledged during his lifetime for how great he was.

    • #25
    • March 21, 2017 at 11:07 pm