One of the pioneers of Rock made his exit Saturday (3/18). Chuck Berry, a six decade fixture in music and a man that had a tremendous influence on a long list of musicians that went on to become major influences on subsequent generations themselves, was pronounced dead by first responders in St. Charles County, MO that had been dispatched after a medical emergency was reported.
Charles Edward Anderson Berry was born in 1926 and grew-up in St. Louis. He launched his recording career on the Chess label and quickly gained an avid following that included John Lennon, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen and countless others. Lennon famously said of Berry, 'if you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry'. Richards called Berry '...the epitome of rhythm and blues playing, rock n' roll playing' and credited the guitarist he called an inspiration to him for a style he says 'I got down long ago but I'm still getting the hang of it.' Springsteen took to his Twitter account to proclaim Berry as "rock's greatest practitioner, guitarist and the greatest pure rock 'n' roll writer that ever lived. This is a tremendous loss of a giant for the ages."
Berry not only broke new ground musically, he opened eyes to the intoxicating effect a dynamic stage presence could have on an audience. His life off the stage was wild, too. He had a number of run-ins with the law and the IRS. But Berry was irrepressible - a force of nature whose imprint on Rock was and will remain considerable. Billboard.com