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Chuck Berry

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Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry (born October 18, 1926 in St. Louis, Missouri) is an influential American guitarist, singer and songwriter.

Chuck Berry is an influential figure and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's website, "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." Cub Koda wrote, "Of all the early breakthrough rock & roll artists, none is more important to the development of the music than Chuck Berry. He is its greatest songwriter, the main shaper of its instrumental voice, one of its greatest guitarists, and one of its greatest performers."John Lennon was more succinct: "If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'."

Berry was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986.

At the end of June 1956, his song "Roll Over Beethoven" reached #29 on the Billboard Top 100 chart. In the autumn of 1957 Berry joined the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, and other rising stars of the new rock and roll to tour the United States. The hits continued from 1957 to 1959, with Berry scoring over a dozen chart singles during this period, including the top 10 U.S. hits "School Days," "Rock and Roll Music," "Sweet Little Sixteen," and "Johnny B. Goode." Author/producer Robert Palmer wrote that Berry’s songs tended to feature country and western inflected light blues melodies, along with plenty of guitar twang. He also had a taste for the "Spanish tinge", as in "La Juanda" and "Havana Moon".

A pioneer of rock and roll, Chuck Berry was a significant influence on the development of early rock and roll guitar techniques and a major catalyst in the rhythm and blues to rock and roll transition. He was the first to define the classic subjects of rock and roll in his songwriting; cars, girls and school. His guitar style is legendary and many later guitar musicians acknowledge him as a major influence in their own style. When Keith Richards inducted Berry into the Hall of Fame he said, "It's hard for me to induct Chuck Berry, because I lifted every lick he ever played!"

Berry was also a large influence on such second generation rockers as The Who and Bob Dylan. The Beach Boys' hit "Surfin' USA" resembled Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen" so closely that they were forced to give Berry a co-writing credit in order to avoid a lawsuit. In the 1980s, George Thorogood created a reasonable career out of what was essentially a Chuck Berry tribute show. Covering a number of Chuck Berry songs and appropriating the duckwalk, Thorogood toured relentlessly as a high-energy, rock and roll revival act.

Edited by Guest

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He really is the "CORNER STONE OF ROCK".

His style and his sound revolutionized music like no one else I've ever known of. I don't know why Elvis is referred to as the King, I honestly think it is/was/is a racial thing. My Gawd! Just give the man a listen for cripe sake!

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Chuck Berry and his act always have always just struck me as goofy looking . I respect the man and what he's done , and even like to hear a few songs , but I've never been thrilled to see him perform .

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Back in the day when Elvis hit the scene most of white America had not even heard of Chuck Berry. Right or wrong that's the way it was. Many "white" stations weren't even playing "colored" artists.

Berry is an amazing writer/performer. Not well liked by anyone who ever played with him (he was a mean spirited leader)he still thrilled the audience. I saw him fire a pianist at one performance and a drummer at another...in the middle of the set. He told the pianist, "play it like I told you. No one came here to hear you play".

Anyway, however you feel about Elvis, were it not for him most black artists of the day would never have hit the airwaves. I've never been a fan but for that reason Elvis was the King.

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UJ you are dead on about Chuck. I read that too.

But his style did influence rock, it's the whole "irreverence" for tradition that launched so many others. Elvis had the pelvis, but Chuck had the "duck". And the stage antics of Chuck were eye popping and crazy!

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Comparing the two, in those early days is almost the same as the early Beatles/Stones comparisons. Good Boys (Beatles/Elvis), Bad Boys (Stones/Berry). One difference though, is that Chuck was a musician, not a singer, and wrote most of his music. His legacy is much more than a voice, he influenced a generation of guitarists and songwriters as well.

Being from the same hometown, I've heard stories of Berry all my life, and seen him up close and personal (not just performing, though that too) many times. Berry is an icon in St Louis, but it wasn't always that way at all. He's known to be quite a bounder actually, and a real jerk to work for or with. Even Keith Richards said so.

I'll always have a soft spot for Chuck though. It was at his "Berry Park", a compound he owned, close to St Louis, that provided me with my first real experiences with live music. More importantly fun! For a small charge (4.00 a person) teens from miles around could go there see local bands perform, the occaisional semi -well known, and when we were lucky, Chuck himself. There was also the draw that we could bring in coolers of beverages as well. The place was packed every weekend, deserved to be shut down, and after about 2 years, was. Those were the days. ;)

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Comparing the two... One difference though, is that Chuck was a musician, not a singer, and wrote most of his music. His legacy is much more than a voice, he influenced a generation of guitarists and songwriters as well.

Excellent point!

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Berry, not Elvis, is one of the founding fathers of Rock 'n Roll. That's a fact.

Give a respectful nod to Little Richard, too.

A hell of a lot more than a respectful nod! Long Tall Sally is fantastic, so is Tutti Frutti, and his influence runs deep and wide! The Beatles are one notable. John loved LR!!

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