Chuck Berry is a pioneer of rock music and still entertaining audiences today with his unique style.
Chuck Berry was born on October 28, 1926 in St. Louis. He is considered by many experts and music fans to be the “Father of Rock and Roll.” He performed for the first time on stage at his high school and his rendition of Jay McShann’s “Confessin’ the Blues” earned him roaring applause from the audience. From that point Berry wanted to be a performer. He started playing the guitar after that performance, with a friend showing him techniques and learning blues chords and rhythm changes from songs on the radio. Berry served three years in prison for armed robbery but was released in 1947 and by the early 1950’s he was working as a musician with various St. Louis bands and in local clubs to earn extra money.
In 1953 Berry started performing with pianist Johnnie Johnson in a group called Sir John’s Trio. The group mostly played the blues, but because country-western music was so popular at the time he decided to use some of the riffs to create a unique sound. Audiences may have been skeptical at first, but his style and outstanding showmanship got people dancing. His combination of country music and rhythm and blues, along with his vocal style similar to Nat King Cole, attracted a wider audience, particularly affluent white people.
The 1950’s saw a number of big hits for Chuck Berry including “Maybellene,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Sweet Little Sixteen,” and “Johnny B. Goode.” His popularity continued into the 1960’s and 70’s and Berry still tours and performs to this day. Berry was the first inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when it opened in 1986. His music has influenced generations and he continues to top the lists of all-time greatest guitar players and musicians.