Chuck Berry Photography

Chuck Berry

Long before Buddy Holly pleaded for “Peggy Sue,” Elvis swiveled his hips, or the Brits invaded America, Chuck Berry was blasting out his own boisterous brand of rhythm and blues. His debut single, “Maybellene,” didn’t just top the charts and move a million copies—it laid the very foundation for what was to become “rock ’n’ roll.”

This Chess Records renegade’s pivotal role was eventually recognized with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opening class induction in 1986, and a Kennedy Center Honors recognition at the turn of the century. Both his peers and the public celebrated his importance with a 1987 tribute concert—co-starring Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, and Etta James.

Berry continued to tour and perform—including monthly gigs at St. Louis’ landmark Blueberry Hill—well into his 80s, proving he could still “duck walk” like no other. This rock ’n’ roll legend passed away in 2017 at the age of 90—just weeks before the release of his first new studio album in nearly four decades.

per page

per page