Chuck Berry was without a doubt one of the most influential musicians of the last two centuries. Not only by being one of the pioneers of Rock & Roll, but also defining its guitar and showmanship. But sadly, the good old Chuck passed away on March 18th.
Even though he might not be with us anymore his legacy and music will always live on. With his iconic riffs and songs like Johnny B. Goode, Maybellene, Roll Over Beethoven and Rock and Roll Music. All of it granted him an induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and a Grammy award. Due to all of this Berry couldn’t have a generic boring funeral, he had to go away Rocking it.
Berry passed away at the age of 90, as his funeral was held on April 9th in his hometown St. Louis, Missouri. The funeral ceremony took place at The Pageant, a local concert venue were Berry played over the years; sometimes even on monthly basis. The venue was open since 8 AM to noon, with a free access so fans to say their final farewell to Berry.
Many of the fans arrived earlier, including beautiful stories and even famous fans. As a fan called Nick Hair, brought his guitar with him from Nashville, Tennessee, so he could play Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” while waiting in line outside. Or even Ray King, who was the first in line arriving at 4 AM and stated: “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and I couldn’t miss out on this chance to be part of something this big. He was such a huge influence in music.”
Berry’s casket was open and featured his red Gibson ES-335 guitar on displayed on the back of the lid. Also, between the flower arrangements, there was one in a shape of a guitar that was sent by the Rolling Stones. Afterward, the public memorial was followed by a private ceremony for Berry’s family and friends, along with 300 fans that were invited by the guitarist’s family.
The private service was celebrated in a Rock & Roll way. As Reverend Alex I. Peterson said, “they would be celebrating Berry’s life in rock ‘n roll style.” This included many live performances, as well as affectionate and emotional speeches from various persons who shared with Berry on his life. Including Marshall Chess (son of Leonard Chess, founder of Chess Records, Berry’s first record label) to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame president Joel Peresman. Along with many of Berry’s bandmates over the years.
— Seheho (@neamhspleach) April 9, 2017
The final goodbye
Berry was so influential to rock that he was the first ever inducted artist to the Rock & Rall Hall of Fame in 1986. As the person in charge of inducting him was Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards as he said: “Berry was the one who started it all.” Since he was the one who added irreverent Rock & Roll attitude and the guitar riff as the main melodic aspect on the song. Also, using storytelling as a method of songwriting.
Also in the celebrity department who honored Berry were Paul McCartney, Little Richard and former President of the U.S. Bill Clinton, who all sent condolence letters. Clinton’s note said what made Berry’s performances so unique. “He captivated audiences around the world. His music spoke to the hopes and dreams we all had in common. Me and Hillary grew up listening to him. Between all the stars that paid tribute to Berry KISS’ Gene Simons gave an emotional eulogy talking about him.
The same day many St. Louis venues paid a tribute to Berry displaying his name or references to him. Also, the night before the funeral many of the bars from the area held a massive final toast in Berry’s honor at 10 PM. At the end of the funeral, a brass band played “St. Louis Blues” while Berry’s casket was carried out.