Berry, Chuck [Charles Edward Anderson]
- Timothy D. Taylor
[Charles Edward Anderson]
(b St Louis, 18 Oct 1926; d Wentzville, MO, 18 March 2017). American rock and roll singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Born into a solid working-class black family, he worked at a variety of jobs before pursuing a career in music. He achieved success rather late; his first number one hit, Maybellene, was recorded in 1955 when he was 29. During the 1950s and 60s he wrote a number of hit songs which have become rock and roll standards, including Roll over Beethoven, Too Much Monkey Business, Brown-Eyed Handsome Man, School Days, Back in the USA, Little Queenie, Memphis, Tennessee, and Johnny B. Goode. Berry’s songs were based on 12-bar blues progressions, with variations ranging from 8 to 24 bars, played at fast tempos with an emphasis on the backbeat. He had a high clear baritone and extremely clean diction and wrote literate, witty lyrics, many of them the best in early rock and roll. He was a consummate guitarist and his style has been as influential as his songwriting. He employed blues and rhythm and blues licks with bluegrass inflections, and adapted them to a pop-song format. Many of these were probably learned from his pianist and collaborator, Johnnie Johnson....