Charles Edward Berry (born October 18, 1926 ), better known as Chuck Berry, is an American guitarist, singer and composer. Berry was born in St. Louis, Missouri and was the first member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1986). He received Kennedy Center Honors in 2000.
While there is debate about who recorded the first rock and roll record, there is little doubt that Chuck Berry's "Maybellene" (1955) was a full synthesis of the rock and roll form, combining blues and country music with teenaged lyrics about girls and cars sung with impeccable diction, smoking electric guitar solos and a duckwalking stage personality.
Producer Leonard Chess recalled laconically, "I told Chuck to give it a bigger beat. History the rest, you know? The kids wanted the big beat, cars, and young love. It was a trend and we jumped on it."
Berry's idols were Nat King Cole, smooth singer and master pianist, Louis Jordan, very much Chuck's model, and Muddy Waters, singer and guitarist who turned Delta blues into Chicago blues and who introduced Berry to Leonard Chess at Chess Records.
Throughout his career Berry recorded both smooth ballads like "Havana Moon" and blues tunes like "Wee Wee Hours", but it was his own mastery of the new form that won him fame.
He recorded more than thirty Top Ten records and his songs have been covered by hundreds of blues, country, and rock and roll performers. The Rolling Stones literally founded their style on his. When Keith Richards inducted Chuck into the Hall of Fame, he said, "It's hard for me to induct Chuck Berry, because I lifted every lick he ever played!"
Chuck toured for many years carrying only his Gibson guitar, confident that he could hire a band that already knew his music no matter where he went. Among the many bandleaders performing this backup role were Bruce Springsteen and Steve Miller. Springsteen backed Chuck again when he appeared at the Concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.
Appropriately, many of his hits are among the leading rock and roll anthems:
In the late 1980s, Berry owned a restaurant in Wentzville, Missouri, called The Southern Air. Berry also owns an estate in Wentzville called "Berry Park." For many years, Berry hosted rock concerts throughout the summer at Berry Park. He eventually closed the estate to the public due to the riotous behavior of many guests. Although in his late 70s, Berry continues to perform regularly, playing both throughout the United States and overseas. He performs one Wednesday each month at Blueberry Hill, a restaurant and bar located in the Delmar Loop neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri.