Chuck Berry: Tributes paid to 'rock's greatest practitioner'

Performer Chuck Berry listens for the crowd to sing to him during the performance of his hit song

Performer Chuck Berry listens for the crowd to sing to him during the performance of his hit song"Johnny B. Goode at the Concert for the Hall of Fame in Cleveland Saturday Sept. 2 1995. Berry was the opening act of the concert. (AP

Chuck Berry's death came just weeks before the debut single off his first new studio album in almost four decades was scheduled to go on sale, a friend of the rock "n" roll legend said. He received a degree in hairdressing and cosmetology and worked for a time as a beautician; he married Themetta Suggs in 1948 and started a family.

Berry was in the first class of inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside contemporaries including Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard. "No question, I was a fan of guitar players and Chuck was at the top of the list as far as rock "n" roll was concerned".

The first case centred around a young woman named Janice Escalante, a Native American teenager who met Berry in Mexico and was invited by him to accompany him on the road and work at a nightclub he owned in St Louis.

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She told the New York Daily News newspaper: "It's breaking my heart to hear this. You can hear his influence in every rock "n" roll band from my generation on".

"I don't even know if Chuck realizes what he did".

"Chuck Berry invented the electric guitar", said Patrick Burke, head of musicology in the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

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Berry's lyrics were clever and well-crafted, filled with elegant yet simple turns of phrase that betrayed a careful attention to detail.

- Ringo Starr: "R I P. And peace and love Chuck Berry Mr. rock "n" roll music".

In the early 1960s, Berry's songs inspired both California rock and the British Invasion. His "Memphis, Tennessee" is perhaps the most ambitious, as Berry sets up a surprise ending to a song seeming to lament the pain of romantic separation. The Cadillac in Berry's "Nadine" is not just a Cadillac, but a "coffee colored" Cadillac. Springsteen's "Born to Run" is rock romance and adventure in the grandest Berry style.

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"They put Elvis in the Army and they put Chuck Berry in jail". And now, once a particular recording becomes authoritative, we think of later versions as "covers" in the sense we understand this term today-thanks in part to Berry. The Beach Boys reworked his Sweet Little Sixteen into Surfin' U.S.A. (Berry sued them and won a songwriting credit.) The Rolling Stones released a string of Berry songs, including their first single, Come On, and the Beatles remade Roll Over Beethoven and Rock and Roll Music. "Chuck, you were incredible, and your music is engraved inside us forever". He also recognised the popularity of country music and added some hillbilly twang to his guitar lines.

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