Chuck was and is a progenitor of the gloriously messy swamp of cross-pollinated sounds we call rock ‘n’ roll. With his own influences as disparate as T-Bone Walker and Nat “King” Cole, Berry burst on the national scene in the early 1950s as a five-tool artist who wrote, sang, played, performed, and created an exciting new form from existing traditions, effortlessly fusing elements of nascent Teenage Pop (which he helped invent), Tin Pan Alley, Blues, R&B, Rockabilly, Swing, and even Country and Western.
Chuck Berry, the man who first envisioned, and then brought about the birth and mythical promise of rock ‘n’ roll, died Saturday at his home outside St. Louis, Missouri. He was 90 years old. His bushels of blueprint songs, and the Big Bang hybrid form he pioneered fusing blues, R&B, country and western, and shrewdly intuitive pop aimed at a commercially untapped generation of baby boomers, will live on.
Last autumn, when Berry announced he was getting ready to release his first album in four decades this year, titled simply “Chuck” and composed of mostly new, original songs, the news sounded almost too time-travel fantastical to be true; like a carnival barker’s clarion call to step right up and see the soundtrack to a thousand sock hops, the architect of rock ‘n’ roll, the amazing ageless duck-walking legend leap to life!
But then, Chuck Berry was a time-traveling marvel in his…
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