Did you know the American Rock-n-Roll Pioneer and legend Chuck Berry is from St. Louis?
It’s true..He certainly is!
Born as Charles E. Anderson on October 18th, 1926 into a middle class family in St. Louis, Missouri Chuck showed interest and love for music at an early age. His first real performance in front of a crowd was held at Sumner High School which he attended.
After a quick bout with the law and a small 3 year prison sentence for armed robbery, Chuck got married to Themetta Suggs and began working at an automobile assembly plant. On October 3rd, 1950 the couple had a child named Darlin Ingrid Berry.
All the while he remained dedicated and immensely interested in music and playing guitar.
By 1953 and heavily influenced by bluesman T-Bone Walker, Nat King Cole and Muddy Waters Chuck began playing in the evenings with the Johnnie Johnson Trio( eventually renamed the Chuck Berry Combo).
Country music was big at the time so Chuck began creating his own style and unique hillbilly sound.
Black audiences thought he was crazy and so did the white audiences but nobody could resist dancing to his music.
In 1955, on a road trip to Chicago, Chuck entered a club where Muddy Waters was playing and after the show asked him who to see about making a record. Waters told him to see Leonard Chess at Chess Records.
Chess asked him to record some tape so Chuck went home and recorded a few songs one of which was called Ida May which later became the famous song Maybellene.
Leonard loved it and Berry was signed to Chess Records in the summer of 1955. Maybelene reached #5 on the Pop charts and #1 on the R&B charts.
The rest is “History” as they say!
Chuck went on to record some of the most famous songs in history such as Roll Over Beethoven, Rock and Roll Music, Johnny B. Good and No Particular Place to Go.
Chuck also had other bouts with the law including tax evasion,fraternization with a minor female, drug abuse and child abuse but that didn’t stop him from being inducted in to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on it’s opening in 1986.
Presently, Chuck still does some minor touring and plays occasionally at the famous Blueberry Hill restaurant and bar on the Delmar Loop in St. Louis.
Putting his skirmishes with the law aside, we in St. Louis are proud that such a music legend was born here and still refers to our great city as his home.