Born on this day in St. Louis, Missouri, the Father of Rock and Roll Charles Edward Anderson Berry (1926-2017) scored his first hit with 1955's Maybellene and modeled his singing after his childhood idol, Nat King Cole.
Of his success Berry said, "I think it had a lot to do with my diction. The pop fan could understand what I was saying better than many other singers."
The singer scored with such innovative hits as Roll Over Beethoven and Sweet Little Sixteen, which eloquently observed: "Sweet little sixteen, with the grown-up blues."
"My music, it is very simple stuff," he once said. With 1958's Johnny B. Goode, Berry dazzled audiences with his raucous performances and trademark duckwalk, which he called "scooting."
"As a songwriter, Chuck Berry is like the Ernest Hemingway of rock & roll," praised Joe Perry of Aerosmith in Rolling Stone magazine. "He gets right to the point. He tells a story in short sentences. You get a great picture in your mind of what's going on."
Berry wrote lyrics with sly innuendos and created some of the most immediately recognized guitar riffs. Building melodies around the 4/4 rock and roll beat, he stroked the mix with passionate solos.
"Everything I wrote about wasn't about me, but about the people listening," Berry said.
As the architect and pioneer of rock, Berry inspired countless rockers, including the Beach Boys, Beatles, and Rolling Stones.
Musician Brian Wilson said, "Berry wrote all of the great songs and came up with all the Rock and Roll beats."
And John Lennon observed, "If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry."
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Hail, Hail Rock and Roll!