ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A Rock n’ Roll legend is being remembered in St. Louis and around the country. Chuck Berry died at his home in St. Charles County over the weekend. He was 90 years old.
Sunday night at the Fox Theatre, Kenny Wayne Shephard gave an an impromptu, unrehearsed performance of Johnny B. Goode honoring Chuck Berry.
Berry was born and raised in The Ville neighborhood in north St. Louis. He went to Sumner High School and proceeded to become to inventor of rock ‘n’ roll.
Academy Award-winning director Taylor Hackford sums Berry’s legacy up best:
“Chuck Berry ranks No. 1 in rock ‘n’ roll. Rock ‘n’ roll is a guitar art form; it’s a particular kind of song writing. Chuck Berry wrote the book on the guitar form and the songwriting,” he says.
Rod Stewart says the first album he ever bought was Berry’s “Live at the Tivoli,” and he was never same.
Bruce Springsteen says Berry is the greatest pure rock ‘n’ roll writer who ever lived.
Mick Jagger tweeted, “he lit up our teenage years and blew life into our dreams of being musicians and performers.”
Even Lenny Kravitz chimes in — “None of us would have been here without you.”
Barack Obama also offered his condolences:
Local Ferguson musician Michael McDonald cited Berry as one of the biggest worldwide influences of music.
“You’d be hard-pressed to come up with anyone who had more of an affect on popular music in the genre of rock ‘n’ roll than Chuck Berry worldwide. It’s kind of hard to get away from the way Chuck Berry defined rock ‘n’ roll,” McDonald says.
KMOX’s Johnny Rabbitt, who regularly plays Chuck Berry songs on his Saturday night show Route 66, says Berry was a real St. Louis guy.
“I found him to be a terrific guy for St. Louis. I mean, he was here for our city from the beginning to the very end, and I’m sorry that that end is here,” he says.
A close friend of Chuck Berry’s, Joe Edwards, says the St. Louis native’s death came just weeks before the debut single off his first new studio album in nearly four decades was scheduled to go on sale.
Edwards owns Blueberry Hill in the Delmar Loop where the rock ‘n’ roll legend performed regularly until late in his 80s.
“People form Japan and Holland and every place, South America, came to Blueberry Hill to see him play in that intimate of a setting — 209 consecutive months, Chuck Berry, the Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll, who influenced The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, Bruce Springsteen everybody else, played there, and it was just glorious,” Edwards says.
He says the tracks he’s heard off the upcoming album called “CHUCK” are “sensational.”
Last October, Berry announced he had recorded a new album of mostly new material. It’s due to be released some time this year.
He is survived by his wife, Thelma Suggs, and four children.