Chuck Berry was born Charles Anderson Edward Berry on October 18, 1926, in St. Louis, Missouri. His parents, Martha and Henry Berry, were the grandchildren of slaves, and are were among the numerous African Americans who moved from the rustic South to St. Louis looking for work amid the World War I period. Martha Berry was one of only a handful of black women of her time to gain a college education, and Henry Berry was an enterprising craftsman and also a minister at the Antioch Baptist Church. Berry was the fourth of six children, and had a variety of hobbies as a child which included carpentry, photography, and music. He sang with his church choir starting as early as six years old. While attending Sumner high school, the first all black prestigious private school in St. Louis, he sang Jay McShann’s “Confessin‘ the Blues” for their annual talent which was a huge hit with the student body. For this performance he was accompanied by a friend who played the guitar, this performance sparked his interest in the guitar and he started lessons soon after. Jay McShann’s “Confessin‘ the Blues” for their annual talent which was a huge hit among his peers. For this performance he was accompanied by a friend who played the guitar, which sparked his interest in the guitar and he started lessons soon after. At the age of 17, he dropped out of high school and go on a road trip to California with three friends. While stopping in Kansas they came across a firearm and decide to go on rob a bakery, barbershop, clothing store, and steal a car. They were ultimately caught by the police and sentenced to ten years. Berry however, was released after three years on good behavior.
After marrying Thelmetta “Toddy” Suggs in 1948, Berry took up the guitar again in 1951 when he joined a band with his high school classmate Tommy Stevens. They played at local black nightclubs and Berry bagan to build a reputation for himself. In 1952 he joined the band of jazz pianist Johnny Johnson called the Sir John’s Trio. He changed their sound by adding an upbeat country sound to their original jazz and pop sound. In the 1950s Berry started taking road trips to Chicago in search for a recording contract. In 1955 he met Muddy Waters who advised him to go to Chess Records. A few weeks later he recorded “Maybellene” and took it to the Chess executives and was immediately offered a recording contract. “Maybellene” became Number 1 on the R&B charts and Number 5 on the Pop charts within months. Shortly after he released numerous other singles that began to pave the way for Rock & Roll music. Berry became one of the first artists to achieve successfully crossing over. He gained a teenage white audience without neglecting his black fan base. His mix of blues and R&B and ability to tie storytelling into his music appealed universally. In the late 1950s, tunes, for example, “Johnny B. Goode”, “Sweet Little Sixteen”, and “Ditty” all figured out how to break the Top 10 of the pop diagrams by accomplishing measure up to prominence with young people on the two sides of the racial partition.
In 1961 Berry was convicted again under the Mann Act for transporting a woman across state lines for “immoral purposes”. In 1958 Berry opened “Club Bandstand” in a white business district, while traveling in Mexico he met a waitress and brought her back to work at his club. After her termination she was brought up on prostitution charges and charges were pressed against Berry as well. This stint wounded him up in jail for twenty months. In 1963 when Berry was released his career picked back up where it left off and he recorded several major hits. His friends said that his second time serving in prison really changed him completely, a man who was once always happy and easy-going was now cold and focused. Berry died on March 18, 2017 at the age of 90. He is remembered as a founding father of rock ‘n’ roll, whose pioneering career influenced generations of musicians.
Berry still stays one of the genres’ most prominent performers. In 1985, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. After a year, in 1986, he became the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame first inductee. Maybe the best measure of Berry’s impact is the degree to which other well known artists have duplicated his work. The Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles have all recreated different Chuck Berry tunes, and Berry’s impact both subtle and significant spread through the majority of their music.
|2002||Chuck Berry – In Concert|
|2001||Johnny B. Goode (Columbia River)|
|Blast From The Past: Chuck Berry|
|2000||Live On Stage|
|Johnny B. Goode (Legacy)|
|Chuck Berry – Anthology|
|1999||20th Century Masters – The Best Of Chuck Berry|
|1998||Rock & Roll Music|
|Live: Roots Of Rock ‘N’ Roll|
|The Latest & The Greatest / You Can Never Tell|
|Chuck Berry – His Best, Vol. 1|
|1996||Let It Rock|
|Roll Over Beethoven|
|The Best Of Chuck Berry|
|1994||On The Blues Side|
|Live At The Fillmore Auditorium (Bonus Tracks)|
|1988||The Chess Box (Box Set)|
|1987||Hail! Hail! Rock ‘N’ Roll|
|1986||Rock ‘N’ Roll Rarities|
|1982||Chuck Berry (picture disc)|
|Reelin’ And Rockin’|
|“Retro Rock” – Chuck Berry – Broadcast Week|
|The Great Twenty-Eight|
|Toronto Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival 1969 Vol. III|
|Toronto Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival 1969 Vol. II|
|1981||Chuck Berry Live|
|Alive And Rockin’|
|1979||Chuck Berry All-Time Hits|
|1978||Chuck Berry Live In Concert|
|Chuck Berry’s 16 Greatest Hits|
|The Best Of The Best Of Chuck Berry|
|1976||Chuck Berry’s Greatest Hits|
|1974||Chuck And His Friends|
|Chuck Berry’s Golden Decade Vol. 3|
|1973||Sweet Little Rock And Roller|
|Chuck Berry’s Golden Decade Vol. 2|
|1972||Johnny B. Goode|
|St. Louie To Frisco To Memphis|
|The London Chuck Berry Sessions|
|1971||San Francisco Dues|
|1969||Concerto In B. Goode|
|1968||From St. Louie To Frisco|
|1967||Live At The Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco|
|Chuck Berry In Memphis|
|Chuck Berry’s Golden Hits|
|Chuck Berry’s Golden Decade|
|Chuck Berry In London|
|1964||St. Louis To Liverpool|
|Two Great Guitars – Chuck Berry And Bo Diddley|
|Chuck Berry’s Greatest Hits|
|1963||Chuck Berry On Stage|
|1962||Chuck Berry Twist|
|1961||New Juke-Box Hits|
|1960||Rockin’ At The Hops|
|1959||Berry Is On Top|
|1958||After School Session|
|One Dozen Berrys|
|1957||Rock Rock Rock|
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Doherty, Thomas. Popular Music 8, no. 2 (1989): 199-202. http://www.jstor.org/stable/853472.
Fryer, Paul H. “”Brown-Eyed Handsome Man”: Chuck Berry and the Blues Tradition.” Phylon (1960-) 42, no. 1 (1981): 60-72. doi:10.2307/274885.
Gilmore, Mikal. “Chuck Berry 1926-2017.” Rolling Stone, April 20, 2017., 22-56, Music Index, EBSCOhost (accessed February 19, 2018)
Taylor, Timothy D. “His Name Was in Lights: Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B. Goode’.” Popular Music 11, no. 1 (1992): 27-40. http://www.jstor.org/stable/853225.
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Schultz, Barbara. “COOL SPIN: CHUCK BERRY CHUCK (DUALTONE).” Mix 41, no. 7 (July 2017): 16. Music Index, EBSCOhost (accessed February 19, 2018).
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