Considered the “Father of Rock N’ Roll,” Chuck Berry transformed music. Berry, a lifelong Missourian, was born Charles Edward Anderson Berry in St. Louis in 1926. He taught himself to play guitar and created his own unique sound blending blues and country styles. Berry’s professional music career gained traction in the 1950s when he played across St. Louis’ nightclubs. In 1955, Muddy Waters introduced Berry to Leonard Chess of Chess Records. Soon after came “Maybellene,” his first chart-topping hit, which reached #1 on Billboard’s rhythm and blues charts. Lyrically, Berry’s music resonated with the younger generation. Later critics would cite Berry as a defining personality for rock n’ roll due to his performance style and love of a good party.
In addition to his musical contributions, Berry was a St. Louis staple and never strayed too far from home. He displayed notable entrepreneurship by investing in real estate, purchasing restaurants, and opening a nightclub. During the last two decades of his career, Berry regularly performed at Blueberry Hill, a bar and restaurant in the Delmar Loop. Critics and musicians recognize Chuck Berry as a core contributor to the transition from rhythm and blues to rock n’ roll. Fitting his trail-blazing legacy, Berry was a member of the first class of inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. He died in Wentzville, a St. Louis suburb, in 2017.