American guitarist and singer Chuck Berry has passed away at the age of ninety.
The St. Charles County Police Department in Missouri confirmed the death of the rock ’n’ roll star on Saturday 17th March 2017.
Berry was one of the most influential rock ’n’ roll performers of all time. Along with the likes of Elvis Presley and Little Richard, Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the distinct sound of rock ’n’ roll. Arguably the master theorist of the new genre, Berry’s songs contained themes of teenage life and consumerism as well as guitar solos and a showmanship never seen before.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, it was in 1955 that Berry travelled to Chicago and met blues legend Muddy Waters. Waters suggested that Berry meet Leonard Chess and try to sign to the famous Chess Records. Noticing that the rhythm and blues market was declining, Chess saw Berry as a possible future for his record label. It was on Chess Records that Berry released most of his hit singles including: “Maybellene”, “Roll Over Beethoven”, “Rock and Roll Music” and arguably his biggest single, “Johnny B. Good”.
Berry’s influence can be heard all over the rock ’n’ roll music that followed him. British invasion bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones kept the performer’s career alive by covering his songs and championing his name whilst he served a stint in prison at the beginning of the sixties. The showmanship present at his concerts as well as his take on guitar solos would go on to influence frontmen and guitarists of hard rock bands for decades to come.
Even the film industry has tipped their hat to Berry a number of times. Back To The Future (1985) dedicated a whole scene to the main character, Marty McFly, playing “Johnny B. Goode” on a high school stage. Quentin Tarantino’s second film, Pulp Fiction (1994) also contains a dance scene where two of the main characters compete in a twist contest to Berry’s track “You Never Can Tell”. Both scenes have become iconic in the history of feature films.
Not many have left as much of an impact on rock ’n’ roll music than Chuck Berry. After ninety years of service to the genre it is a tragedy to see such an icon go. We will miss you Chuck Berry, thank you for your talent.
What is your favourite Chuck Berry song? Let us know in the comments!
Subscribe to University of Rock's official newsletter here for more stories you don't want to miss plus exclusive new releases, promotions, and more.
Are you a musician looking to grow your Instagram following? Click here to reserve a feature on one of our accounts!