Chuck Berry, father of rock 'n' roll, dies at 90

- The father of rock and roll, Chuck Berry, passed away in Missouri at the age of 90. His musical mix of jazz, blues and country made a sound all his own.

“It’s like poetry that he put to music,” Joe Finkle of the band Joe Finkle & The 7/10 Splits said.

On the night of Berry’s death, Finkle and his band performed at the Smoke House in Burbank and dedicated the entire show to the rock legend.

“All Chuck Berry front to back Maybellene to My Ding-A-Ling and everything in between,” Finkle said.

That song Maybellene was Berry’s first demo with Chess Records in the mid-1950s. After that, a string of hits followed with a musical career spanning at least seven decades.

It made Berry was of the greatest rock influencers of all time.

“The Beetles covered Chuck Berry. In fact it was John Lennon who said instead of calling it rock and roll you should just call it Chuck Berry,” “Uncle Joe” Benson, 100.3 The Sound KSWD FM, said.

Benson believes it was Berry’s songwriting ability that spoke to fans.

“Chuck always made a point in his songs. He told a story. There was a beginning, a set up of what was going on and a conclusion,” he said.

Berry’s own life story started in 1926 when he was born in San Jose, California. He grew up mostly in St. Louis where a local jazz artist taught him guitar.

In 1956, he made his first national appearance in New York, where he created his famous “duck walk” on stage.

“I’ve seen a him a number of times and he was just mesmerizing. I mean, he just captivated the audience with his energy you know,” fan Dave Romero said. “Listen to his records. It’s about young love, it’s about school days. You know, trials and tribulations of teenage youth.”

Berry had trials and tribulations of his own, serving time in prison for involvement with underage girls. He had legal troubles with drug abuse and tax evasion charges, but despite that - he remained a legend, to this day influencing other young musicians.

“Johnny B. Goode was probably one of the first songs I learned how to play all the way through on the guitar,” musician Scott Rankie said.

In 1985, Berry was one of the first musicians inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Fans described his style as imperfect and free, the embodiment of rock and roll.

“It’s not supposed to be clean and perfect and pure. It’s supposed to be dirty and fun and that’s what Chuck Berry was,” Amoeba Records floor manager Daniel Tures said. 

Before his death, Berry announced he was releasing a new record in 2017 in celebration of his 90th birthday.

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