Chuck Berry fans are getting their chance to pay their respects to the rock ’n’ roll visionary, roughly three weeks after his death at age 90 near his hometown of St. Louis.
Fans of the legend behind such classics as Johnny B. Goode, Sweet Little Sixteen and Roll Over Beethoven can file past his casket Sunday at The Pageant, a St. Louis club where he frequently performed. The public viewing will be followed by a private service for family and friends, including those in the music industry.
Charles Edward Anderson Berry, who died March 18, was the first artist in the inaugural 1986 class to go into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and he closed out its concert in 1995 to celebrate that Cleveland building’s opening. The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards said at Berry’s induction ceremony that Berry was the one who started it all.
Berry, whose core repertoire included about three dozen songs, had a profound influence on rock ’n’ roll, from garage bands all the way up to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
Well before the rise of Bob Dylan, Berry wedded social commentary to the beat and rush of popular music.
“He was singing good lyrics, and intelligent lyrics, in the ’50s when people were singing, ‘Oh, baby, I love you so,’” John Lennon once observed.
“Everything I wrote about wasn’t about me, but about the people listening,” Berry once said.