b. March 6, 1946
Chuck Berry is one of the pioneers of rock and roll; in fact, John Lennon once said "If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'."
In 1944, at the age of eighteen, he was arrested and convicted of armed robbery. Four years later, he was released. Berry worked in auto plants and as a janitor. As an extra source of income, he also started playing guitar for various bands in St. Louis.
Berry was among the first to try to attract both black and white audiences. He altered his diction to sound friendlier to the whites and incorporated some country music. To maintain his appeal to the blacks, he played Muddy Waters songs and began to have a wilder on-stage persona. In 1955, Berry re-worked an old country and western song called “Ida Red”. His version, now known as “Maybellene”, sold a million copies and went to number one.
Berry’s influence on the guitar industry cannot be quantified. He is a direct influence on John Lennon, Keith Richards, Angus Young, Joe Perry and Jerry Garcia to name a few.Berry had fourteen, Top 40 hits. He has also sold millions of albums, changed the direction of electric guitar and set the standard for on-stage performance. In 1984, he was awarded the Grammy Life Time Achievement Award, and both Rolling Stone and Time Magazines have him rated among the top guitarists of all-time.