04/17- Chuck Berry

04/17- Chuck Berry

Back to the roots

The Beatles and the Rolling Stones are often referred to as a pioneer of a new era in music history. No doubt these two bands inspired countless other musicians of their time, thus laying the foundation for rock and pop of today. But the source from which our contemporary sounds drew these ancestors their ideas? Who is the link between the country and jazz of the 1950s and the fresh beat of John, Paul, Mick & Co? Looking for this "missing link" to get to a name not over: Chuck Berry. Surely Elvis Presley with his sexy hip swing to some extent paved the way for everything that was to follow since. But the triumph of the howling, rocking electric guitar, no one has so successfully promoted as Mister Chuck B. Let's take. A closer look at the turbulent life of the black exceptional musician

The early years

Chuck, was born on October 18, 1926 in St. Louis, Missouri when Charles Edward Anderson Berry. He is the fourth child of Henry and Martha Berry, a Baptist preacher and a teacher, two other siblings will follow. The Berrys live in one of the more affluent districts of St. Louis and the income of two working parents the family ensures a modest prosperity. So it is more than unlikely that there is need of money, the 18-year-old Chuck impels three stores in Kansas City to rob at gunpoint. Evil tongues would argue that materialized an old saying here: ". Teacher's children, Pastor cattle, rarely or never prosper" Chuck, doubly endangered as a child of a pastor and teacher, is caught and sentenced to three years in juvenile prison.

Already in high school Chuck had begun to be interested in music and founded with three other prisoners, a gospel quartet. After several successful appearances in front of the other inmates the four young men may even occur outside the prison. After his release in 1947, Chuck worked for a time as a hairdresser and married Themetta Suggs. Once in rapid succession two children are born, Chuck is training to become beauticians and can on his income a little house for the family to buy. The small brick building with three rooms and a bathroom is now run as "Chuck Berry House" in the "National Register of Historical Places."

The reputation of the stage

In 1951, Chuck depends working as a beautician on the nail and works part as gatekeepers of the radio station WEW. Whenever his work permits, he spends time with the musicians who come to live performances in the transmitter and buys from one of them an electric guitar. He takes guitar lessons at a friend and blues riffs and stage show of his idol T-Bone Walker begins to imitate. Chuck is more than talented and has in 1952 made his first appearance in a music club in St. Louis as a substitute in the Johnnie Johnson Trio. The gig is a complete success and that evening begins an almost twenty-year-long collaboration with the eponymous pianist and composer Johnnie Johnson. Already at that time Chuck begins to develop his own style and to weave elements of hip Country sounds in the blue-heavy program of the trio. The initial mockery of the predominantly black audience - "Who is that black hillbilly guy on the stage?" - quickly turns into enthusiasm for the new and well danceable sound. Chuck is St. for trendy tip in the musician metropolis Louis.

The birth of the "Father of Rock 'n' Roll"

Together with an old school friend Chuck 1955 travels to Chicago to attend a concert of the three blues legends Howlin 'Wolf, Elmore James and Muddy Waters. After the concert, he asks Muddy Waters for an autograph and a tip, to whom he can turn as a musician in Chicago to make their own recordings. Muddy Waters refers him to the independent record label "Chess Records", a project of the brothers Chess, under contract to the numerous trendy blues musicians. Chuck takes on a demo tape of his songs and play them a few days later Leonard Chess ago. He's impressed, but Chuck's surprise, fewer of the Blue numbers, but much more of his interpretation of country songs "Ida Red". Arrange a recording session and a short time later, Chuck Berry's first single will be released. The old country number under the new title "Maybellene" strikes like a grenade-up virtually overnight in the top ten on the Billboard charts. Chess Records Chuck takes immediately under contract and sends him on a nationwide tour. Let the show begin!

First appearance of the "duck"

In a speech in New York Chuck Berry shows for the first time his famous "Duck Walk" on stage. He hops on a bent leg slowly across the stage and stretched while the other leg of himself. Meanwhile, he plays on its stretched forward guitar whose body it is supported with the hip. From the side, similar to the waddling gait of a duck, an impression the Chuck supported by jerky movements of his head. He later says he wanted to hide this trick only the folds of his suit. The audience is raging with excitement and Chuck takes the Duck Walk firmly in his stage program. Other musicians, including Angus Young, guitarist of Australian hard rock band AC / DC will copy the Duck Walk decades later.

Conflict with the law

In the late 1950s Chuck Berry has firmly established itself in the music scene of the time. Several hits, including classics like "Roll over Beethoven" and "Johnny B. Goode" have made him a superstar and rich. It invests in real estate and opened one of the first nightclubs for blacks and whites. Everything seems more than to run well, but then Chuck comes under suspicion of a 14-year cross the border of the State to have smuggled. He is accused of the offense against the so-called "Mann Act" and then sentenced to three years in prison after several processes, first to five. From the punishment he sits in the years 1962 and 1963 from a total of 18 months.

Comeback and re-imprisonment

While Chuck Berry's time in prison had bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones gecovert some of his hits and thereby brought him new fans. In particular, John Lennon was inspired by Chuck's music and gave him the honorable nickname "The Shakespeare of Rock & Roll". Chuck uses the opportunity and embark on more extensive touring. He proves to be a tough negotiator, does not deviate from his demands and always requesting that his pay in cash. But exactly this enterprising behavior is his undoing: The tax authority accuses him of evading in this way income taxes. Chuck pleads guilty and is sentenced to ten months in prison and 1,000 hours of community service, which recalled a series of benefit concerts.

Life and death as a legend

To old age Chuck Berry denies countless concerts, appears in TV shows, published plates and is celebrated on his worldwide tours as the inventor of rock 'n roll. His guitar playing impressed generations of guitarists and helps the electric guitar to their dominant role in the rock music. Among many international awards he was honored in Germany in 2008 with the Golden Camera for Lifetime Achievement. Yet in 2016 he announced his 90th birthday a new album: It should be called "Chuck" and be dedicated to his wife Themetta "Toddy". The two have been married at this time since 68 years. But the album will no longer appear. Chuck Berry is found on March 18, 2017 St. Charles County in Missouri, USA, found dead in his apartment.

"Rock's so good to me. Rock is my child and my grandfather. "

Chuck Berry

Copyright Photo: © H. Michael Karshis - Flickr.com

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Categories : Men of the month

Published : 04/1/2017 05:00:00