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Chuck Berry facts for kids

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Chuck Berry
Berry in 2007
Background information
Birth name Charles Edward Berry
Born (1926-10-18)October 18, 1926
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Died March 18, 2017(2017-03-18) (aged 90)
Genres Rock and roll
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter
Years active 1951 – 2017

Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry (October 18, 1926 – March 18, 2017) was an American singer, guitarist and songwriter. He is one of the original musicians who helped to create rock and roll.

Early life

Born in St. Louis, Berry was the youngest child. He grew up in the north St. Louis neighborhood known as the Ville, an area where many middle-class people lived. His father, Henry William Berry (1895–1987) was a contractor and deacon of a nearby Baptist church; his mother, Martha Bell (Banks) (1894–1980) was a certified public school principal. Berry's upbringing allowed him to pursue his interest in music from an early age. He gave his first public performance in 1941 while still a student at Sumner High School.


By the early 1950s, Berry was working with local bands in clubs in St. Louis as an extra source of income. He had been playing blues since his teens, and he borrowed both guitar riffs and showmanship techniques from the blues musician T-Bone Walker. He also took guitar lessons from his friend Ira Harris, which laid the foundation for his guitar style.

In May 1955, Berry traveled to Chicago, where he met Muddy Waters who told him of a record company that would release his first song. In 1957 he joined the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly and other popular musicians on a tour around the United States. Over the next few years he became more and more popular and had many popular songs on the radio. "Maybellene" (1955), "Roll Over Beethoven" (1956), "Rock and Roll Music" (1957) and "Johnny B. Goode" (1958) were massive hits.

He has influenced many rock and pop musicians who came after him. Berry has influenced many music artists, like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, and Bob Dylan.

Berry was a favorite with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys, who adapted and recorded a number of his songs.

In 1986 a documentary film, Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, was made. It featured a celebration concert for Berry's sixtieth birthday, organized by Keith Richards.

Berry was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986; he was cited for having "laid the groundwork for not only a rock and roll sound but a rock and roll stance." Berry is included in several of Rolling Stone magazine's "greatest of all time" lists; he was ranked fifth on its 2004 and 2011 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll includes three of Berry's: "Johnny B. Goode", "Maybellene", and "Rock and Roll Music". Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" is the only rock-and-roll song included on the Voyager Golden Record.

Berry announced on his 90th birthday that his first new studio album since Rock It in 1979, entitled Chuck, would be released in 2017. His first new record in 38 years, it includes his children, Charles Berry Jr. and Ingrid, on guitar and harmonica, with songs "covering the spectrum from hard-driving rockers to soulful thought-provoking time capsules of a life's work" and dedicated to his beloved wife of 68 years, Toddy.

Death and funeral

On March 18, 2017, police in St. Charles County, Missouri, were called to Berry's house, where he was found unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at the scene, aged 90. TMZ website posted an audio recording in which the 911 operator can be heard responding to a reported "cardiac arrest" at Berry's home.

Berry's funeral was held on April 9, 2017, at The Pageant, in Berry's hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. He was remembered in rock 'n' roll style with a public viewing by family, friends, and fans in The Pageant, a music club where he often performed.


While no individual can be said to have invented rock and roll, Chuck Berry comes the closest of any single figure to being the one who put all the essential pieces together. It was his particular genius to graft country & western guitar licks onto a rhythm & blues chassis in his very first single, "Maybellene".

On July 29, 2011, Berry was honored in a dedication of an eight-foot, in-motion Chuck Berry Statue in the Delmar Loop in St. Louis, Missouri, right across the street from Blue Berry Hill. Berry said, "It's glorious--I do appreciate it to the highest, no doubt about it. That sort of honor is seldom given out. But I don't deserve it." (Daniel Durchholz (July 29, 2011). "Chuck Berry Statue Unveiled in St. Louis." "Rolling Stone.")

The rock critic Robert Christgau considers Berry "the greatest of the rock and rollers", while John Lennon said, "if you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'." Ted Nugent said, "If you don't know every Chuck Berry lick, you can't play rock guitar." Bob Dylan called Berry "the Shakespeare of rock 'n' roll". Springsteen tweeted, "Chuck Berry was rock's greatest practitioner, guitarist, and the greatest pure rock 'n' roll writer who ever lived."

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Chuck Berry para niños

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