Chuck Berry, Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Dies at 90
Revolutionary blues singer Chuck Berry, often referred to as the "poet laureate" and "father" of rock 'n' roll, died Saturday, police in Missouri said. He was 90.
Officers responded to Berry's home outside St. Louis on Saturday afternoon and found him unconscious, the St. Charles County police said on Facebook. First responders were unsuccessful in reviving him and pronounced him dead at 1:26 p.m. local time.
One of the first inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Berry wove together beguiling narratives, fusing rhythm and blues with country and western — transfixing the nation.
In 2000, President Bill Clinton called Berry "one of the 20th Century's most influential musicians."
Known for chart-toppers such as "Johnny B Goode," "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Brown Eyed Handsome Man," Berry's career rocketed in the 1950s after signing a record deal with Chess Records at the behest of musician Muddy Waters, according to Rolling Stone.
His first hit, "Maybellene," spent nine weeks in the No. 1 spot on the Billboard R&B chart and also rose to No. 5 on the pop charts. Berry reshaped the 1950s with a unique sound that appealed to both sides of a racially divided country.
"I made records for people who would buy them. No color, no ethnic, no political — I don't want that, never did," Berry told the New York Times in 2003.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame said in a statement Saturday that Berry "created the rock sound."
"Chuck Berry created the rock sound and captured our thoughts, feelings and concerns with his lyrics," the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame said. "It's hard to imagine rock and roll without him and fitting that he was the first person inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame."
Many of the biggest names in rock 'n' roll have cited Berry as an inspiration thanks to his earworm tunes.
According to Gibson.com, John Lennon said: "If you gave rock 'n' roll another name, it would be Chuck Berry."
Leonard Cohen believed, "all of us are footnotes to the words of Chuck Berry," while Bob Dylan dubbed him the "Shakespeare of rock 'n' roll," Peter Guralnick recalled in Rolling Stone in October 2016.
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