Sweet dreams Rock “N’ Roll, Sweet dreams Chuck Berry
As my dear friend Greg Haddow put it, Chuck Berry was not the king but the architect of Rock ‘N’ Roll. And his memorable songs about girls, cars and wild parties defined early on what Rock ‘n’ Roll was about. On Saturday night, Chuck Berry died at his home near Wentzville, Mo. He was 90 years old.
Chuck Berry began producing hits in the 1950s, including 1958’s “Johnny B. Goode,” and had his first No. 1 hit in 1972 with “My Ding-a-Ling,” his clever lyrics and distinctive sounds eventually made him one of the most influential figures in the history of rock music.
Chuck Berry had early exposure to music at school and church. As a teen, he was sent to prison for three years for armed robbery. In the mid-1950s, Chuck Berry began taking road trips to Chicago, in search of a record contract. Early in 1955, he met the legendary blues musician Muddy Waters, who suggested that Berry go meet with Chess Records. A few weeks later, Berry wrote and recorded a song called “Maybellene” and took it to the executives at Chess. They immediately offered him a contract; within months, “Maybellene” had reached No. 1 on the R&B charts and No. 5 on the pop charts. With its unique blend of a rhythm and blues beat, country guitar licks and the flavor of Chicago blues and narrative storytelling, many music historians consider “Maybellene” the first true rock ‘n’ roll song. In 1985, Chuck Berry received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. A year later, in 1986, he became the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s first inductee.
In the late 1950s, songs such as “Johnny B. Goode,” “Sweet Little Sixteen” and “Carol” all managed to crack the Top 10 of the pop charts by achieving equal popularity with youths on both sides of the racial divide. “I made records for people who would buy them,” Berry said. “No color, no ethnic, no political—I don’t want that, never did.”
The influences and impact he has had are never ending.
Chuck is the upcoming final and posthumous studio album by American rock and roll guitarist Chuck Berry. It is his first album in 38 years to consist of mainly new material, since his 1979 record Rock It. The album is dedicated to his wife Thelmetta “Toddy” Berry. The recording was announced for a 2017 release during Berry’s 90th birthday on October 18, 2016. Berry recorded Chuck with his longtime backing band, which includes his children Charles Berry Jr. (guitar) and Ingrid Berry (harmonica), along with bassist Jimmy Marsala, pianist Robert Lohr and drummer Keith Robinson.