Arguably one of the creators of modern rock and roll music, Chuck Berry has passed away at the age of 90 according to Yahoo. His death was confirmed by the St. Charles County Police Department (Missouri) via Facebook. They responded to an emergency call that took place at 12:40 PM today (March 18, 2017). According to the post, first responders arrived at the home and found a man unresponsive and immediately began to attempt live-saving techniques, which were not successful. Berry was pronounced dead at 1:26 PM.
There are few musicians that can hold a candle to the sheer influence of Berry. His guitar playing, songwriting ability and sheer charisma made him a touchstone for so many of the genre’s biggest names – The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones – it is hard to imagine any of these artists’ existence without the profound influence of Berry. In fact, Keith Richards himself admitted while inducting Berry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 1986, that he had “lifted every lick” that had been written and played by Berry.
Some of Berry’s best known songs were not necessarily commercial hits – “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Sweet Little Sixteen” and “Johnny B. Goode” by themselves are the template for literally hundreds of thousands of songs that have been written over the last half century. Berry even was given a songwriting credit for “Surfin’ USA” after he pointed out that The Beach Boys had co-opted massive elements of “Sweet Little Sixteen.” Curiously, his biggest hit is a relatively forgotten cut called “My Ding-A-Ling,” which was released back in 1972 and is largely considered a novelty hit.
Berry was active right up until his death, and even had a new album planned for release in 2017 – it would be his first since 1979. It is tentatively titled Chuck – though it remains to be seen if the album, which was announced on his 90th birthday back in October, will still be released.