Entertainer and musician Chuck Berry transcended generations and captured audiences by putting his listeners’ amusement above all else. Berry was born in St. Louis, Missouri on October 18, 1926, and went on to become a true legend. Here are five things to know about the iconic Chuck Berry!
- The Originator of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Chuck Berry’s hit song, “Maybellene,” is considered the first true rock ‘n roll song. The song featured a rhythm and blues beat, country guitar infusions, and a Chicago blues flare. Berry also incorporated narrative storytelling and created a song that was unmatched on the radio at the time. “Maybellene” earned Berry his first record deal and a top spot on the charts.
- Chuck Berry Discovered His Passion As A Teen. Performing “Confessin’ The Blues” in front of his entire school sparked Chuck Berry’s passion for music. In an interview with the New York Times, he revealed that the performance made him determined to play the guitar while also singing. Although the song choice offended the audience at the time, Berry did not let it discourage him. He continued on to become a major sensation amongst all audiences.
- A Man Of Many Hats. Before becoming a hall of famer, Chuck Berry had a variety of hobbies and interests. In his youth, he performed carpentry work for his father and learned photography from his uncle. Following his success in music, he opened a restaurant. Music turns out to be just one of Berry’s many talents!
- Helped To Bridge A Racial Divide. Chuck Berry grew up during an era of segregation, discrimination, and racial tension. Despite living through these conditions, he intentionally blended music from both sides of the racial divide. He managed to achieve crossover appeal with white audiences without alienating his existing black fan base. Berry mixed the blues with R&B and storytelling to speak a universal language to both audiences.
- Chuck Berry Authored His Autobiography. The autobiography of Chuck Berry reveals the intimate thoughts and details of the life of the beloved musician. Unlike many other artists, Berry actually authored his book without the assistance of a ghostwriter. Chuck Berry: The Autobiography was published in 1987 and showed that he could capture an audience using words with or without his guitar.
Chuck Berry ended his career with intentions to release an album dedicated to his wife of more than 60 years, “Toddy.” The pioneer died on March 18, 2017, at the age of 90 and is remembered by many for his musical influence.