Kieth Richards said of Berry's signature hit "Johnny B. Goode": "Floored me... knocked me out. After (first hearing) that, I knew what I wanted to do..."
Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry -dob 10.18.26- is an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter, and it's an understatement to say he's one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. With songs such as "Maybellene" (1955), "Roll over Beethoven" (1956), "Rock and Roll Music" (1957) and "Johnny B. Goode" (1958), Chuck Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive, utilizing guitar solos and showmanship that would be a major influence on the evolution of most rock music to this day.
Born into a middle class family in St. Louis, Missouri, Berry had an interest in music from an early age and gave his first public performance at Sumner High School. While still a high school student he served a prison sentence for armed robbery (as a teen, also a pioneer in carjacking) between 1944 and 1947. On release Berry settled into married life, and worked at an automobile assembly plant; but, influenced by the guitar riffs and showmanship techniques of blues player T-Bone Walker, by early 1953 he was performing in the evenings with the Johnnie Johnson Trio in St. Louis.
The big break came when he traveled to Chicago in May 1955 and met Muddy Waters, who suggested he contact Leonard Chess of Chess Records. Chess recorded Berry's adaptation of the country song "Ida Red" - "Maybellene" -a lyric he derived from the cosmetic brand because he liked the name- sold over a million copies, reaching #1 on Billboard's Rhythm and Blues chart... right then, Chuck Berry was a rock-n-roll star.
After his release in 1963 Berry had several more hits, including "No Particular Place To Go", "You Never Can Tell", and "Nadine", but these did not achieve the same success, or lasting impact of his 50s songs, and by the 1970s he was more in demand as a nostalgic live performer, playing his past hits with local backup bands of variable quality. His insistence on being paid cash led to his third prison sentence in 1979 - four months for tax evasion. Now in his eighties, Berry continues to play live...Chuck Berry was -of course- among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986, with the comment that he "laid the groundwork for not only a rock and roll sound but a rock and roll stance."
These videos are from a 1965 television appearance, a few months after release from prison and presenting his first new one "Promised Land"- a song he wrote re. a fictional adventure of leaving home for California. The geographic procession of the story was written using a road atlas borrowed from the penitentiary library-
Chuck Berry: Maybelline
Chuck Berry: Promised Land