Of all the early breakthrough rock & roll artists, none is more important to the development of music than Chuck Berry. He is its greatest songwriter, the main shaper of its instrumental voice, one of its greatest guitarists, and one of its greatest performers. Charles Edward Anderson “Chuck” Berry was born in St. Louis, Missouri on October 18, 1926. Growing up, Chuck Berry idolized the vocals of Nat King Cole and the blues of Muddy Waters. One night he played a show for his high school where he performed a blues song. After that, he picked up the guitar and had to be onstage from then onward.
Eventually, Berry began singing and touring. Berry even got to open for Muddy Waters during the early stages of his musical career and it became one of the most advantageous nights of his life. From them, he got the advice to go to Leonard Chess and Chess Records. Berry sampled some of his music to Chess and was signed with the company. While at that label, Chuck Berry rose to stardom. The hits started coming thick and fast over the next few years, every one of them about to become a classic of the genre: “Roll Over Beethoven”, “Thirty Days”, “Too Much Monkey Business”, “Brown Eyed Handsome Man”, “You Can’t Catch Me”, “School Day”, “Carol”, “Back in the U.S.A.”, “Little Queenie”, “Memphis, Tennessee”, “Johnny B. Goode”, and the tune that defined the moment perfectly, “Rock and Roll Music.”
Chuck Berry remains the epitome of rock & roll, and his music will endure long after he’s gone because when it comes down to his music, perhaps John Lennon said it best, “If you were going to give rock & roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’.”
- Were you at the Mabee Center Arena in Tulsa when Chuck Berry was performing live? If so, we want to hear about it!
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- Do you have photos or memorabilia of Chuck Berry or the concert? Consider donating them to the Mabee Center Museum here.