Chuck Berry has died. The rock’n’roll legend, who announced the release of his last album in 2016, was found unresponsive at his home in Missouri on Saturday.
Chuck Berry’s announcement of the release of his first album in 38 years came as a surprise for several reasons. The news of the album titled Chuck was revealed during Berry’s 90th birthday celebrations. His last project, Rock It, was released in 1979.
In 2012, at 86, Chuck Berry said regarding his future that his throat and lungs are tired and that his singing days were over.
“Well, I’ll give you a little piece of poetry. ‘Give you a song? I can’t do that. My singing days have passed. My voice is gone. My throat is worn and my lungs are going fast.’ I think that explains it,” Chuck Berry told Rolling Stone.
Chuck, which will feature new Chuck Berry songs, is set to be out in 2017 by Nashville record label Dualtone. However, no specific date was set for the album’s release.
Chuck Berry said he had been working on Chuck for a long time. The songs that made the album were reportedly recorded in St. Louis, his hometown. He also worked with his original backing group, which includes two of his children. Charles Berry Jr. and Ingrid Berry play the guitar and harmonica respectively.
Chuck Berry also dedicated the new album, which he insinuated would be his last, to his wife Thelmetta Berry, whom he called “Toddy.” The couple was married for 68 years, The Guardian reported.
“This record is dedicated to my beloved Toddy,” Berry said in a statement. “My darlin’ I’m growing old! I’ve worked on this record for a long time. Now I hang up my shoes!”
Chuck Berry’s innovative songwriting and electric performances shaped Rock ‘N’ Roll. His list of hits is almost as long as the musicians he influenced. His musical disciples include some of Rock ‘N’ Roll’s biggest giants such as the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Rolling Stones.
John Lennon accurately captured how Rock ‘N’ Roll is indebted to Chuck Berry when he said, “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry.'”
Chuck Berry’s influence also reached Hip Hop music. Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of Hip Hop legendary group Run-DMC described Berry as “the first rapper’s rapper” due to the smooth flow of his voice.
Chuck Berry classics include “Maybellene,” “Memphis,” “Nadine,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “No Particular Place to Go,” and “School Days.” His song “Johnny B Goode” was one of the records that were taken to space in 1977.
Despite his accomplishments, Chuck Berry was very modest about the reach of his musical influence. In his 1978 autobiography, he said he does not deserve all the credits.
Chuck Berry’s death was confirmed by the St. Charles County Police Department who responded to a medical emergency call from his home at around 12:40 p.m on Saturday. According to CNN, medics had tried to resuscitate him, but they were unsuccessful.
“We are deeply saddened to announce that Chuck Berry – beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather – passed away at his home today at the age of 90. Though his health had deteriorated recently, he spent his last days at home surrounded by the love of his family and friends. The Berry family asks that you respect their privacy during this difficult time,” a statement posted on his Facebook page said.
A long list of musicians and fans has taken to social media to pay their respects to Chuck Berry and express their condolences to his family.
Chuck Berry IS rock and roll!— AC/DC (@acdc) March 19, 2017
It's sad day for rock and roll, but his music will live on forever.
Hail, hail rock and roll!!!!! pic.twitter.com/ANCkKaglQW
I am so sad to hear of Chuck Berry's passing. I want to thank him for all the inspirational music he gave to us. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/9zQbH5bo9V— Mick Jagger (@MickJagger) March 18, 2017
One of the first solos I ever learned was Chuck Berry's. I'm truly saddened this morning, as we've lost another legend. RIP Mr. Berry!— Dave Mustaine (@DaveMustaine) March 19, 2017
Journalists are getting it wrong #ChuckBerry didn't help define or was part of the fabric: he literally was THE STANDARD of rock n roll.— Questlove Gomez (@questlove) March 19, 2017
[Featured Image by Peter Klaunzer/KEYSTONE/AP Images]