Pioneering rock and roller Chuck Berry, who recorded hits including “Maybellene” and “Johnny B. Goode,” died at his home near St. Louis. He was 90. From the New York Times: “[Berry’s] indelible guitar licks, brash self-confidence and memorable songs about cars, girls and wild dance parties did as much as anyone to define rock ’n’ roll’s potential and attitude in its early years.” Blending blues, a little country, electrifying guitar solos, and a lot of swagger, Berry helped define rock and roll’s distinctive sound.
He sang about teen tales and seemed to find the humor in everything, despite the racially tense world he was raised in. “By the 1980s, Mr. Berry was recognized as a rock pioneer,” continues the Times. “He never won a Grammy Award in his prime, but the Recording Academy gave him a lifetime achievement award in 1984. He was in the first group of musicians inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.”
“It amazes me when I hear people say, ‘I want to go out and find out who I am,’” Berry once said. “I always knew who I was. I was going to be famous if it killed me.”