It’s practically impossible for us not to swell with pride when we remember that Chuck Berry, the rock and roll pioneer who’s given so much to the music world, hails from St. Louis. We salute him today, his 89th birthday!
Chuck was born in 1926 and grew up in The Ville neighborhood in north St. Louis. He took an interest in music from an early age and gave his first public performance in 1941 as a student at Sumner High School.
He married Themetta “Toddy” Suggs in 1948 and supported his family working several jobs around St. Louis while playing in clubs with several local bands as a guitarist.
After signing with Chess Records, Chuck scored his first big hit in 1955 with “Maybellene,” an adaptation of a country-western song called “Ida Red.” “Maybellene” was an R&B No. 1 record and sold more than 1 million copies.
It was only the beginning. For the next decade, Chuck had more than a dozen additional chart hits, such as “Johnny B. Goode,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Rock And Roll Music” and “No Particular Place to Go.”
In 1977, his music literally turned out-of-this-world when “Johnny B. Goode” was selected to be featured on the gold records traveling aboard the Voyager space probes.
After the release of his last studio album in 1979, Chuck spent most of his time touring. His shows were as electrifying as his music, and his legendary “duck walk” dance has become iconic.
Chuck was the among the first musicians inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and accepted a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame three years later.
In 1996, Chuck and longtime friend Joe Edwards, the “Duke of Delmar,” decided Chuck would perform a monthly concert series at Edwards’s Blueberry Hill restaurant on The Delmar Loop. He has since performed more than 200 shows in the venue’s legendary Duck Room.
Even if Chuck Berry’s music and style isn’t your taste, chances are it influenced your favorite artist. His talents – especially his guitar technique – have won the admiration of John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Eric Clapton and others.
From all of your friends and fans in St. Louis, Chuck, have a rockin’ birthday!