According to the St. Charles County Police Department, Berry was found unresponsive in his MS home on Saturday. The police and medical services arrived at 12:40 local time and the announcement of death was made at 1:26 p.m.
Berry died at a St. Louis-area home, according to the St. Charles County Police Department.
Berry’s exact cause of death is unknown, though his son, Charles Jr., told Rolling Stone that he had recently suffered a bout pneumonia. Interested in music early on, he sang in the church choir and school glee club.
The following is an interview with Berry, where he talks about performing in his later years.
In terms of family, he had been married to Themetta “Toddy” Suggs since 1948 – almost 70 years.
At Universal he was backed by a lively trio consisting of fellow St. Louis musician Jim Marsala on bass, who has accompanied Berry off and on for four decades, plus pianist Michael Clark and drummer Kirk Arthur, both of whom have played with him regularly for some 13 years.
Berry’s run would be sidelined in the early 1960s, after he was arrested and imprisoned for violating The Mann Act. Muddy advised him to seek out Leonard and Phil Chess of Chicago’s Chess Records. He wrote songs for the rock “n” roll masses, and they just happened to have such depth and resonance that “Johnny B. Goode” sounds as good today as it did March 31, 1958 – the day it was released.
While many are most familiar with Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”, the legendary musician was far from a “one-hit wonder”.
Berry, always a shrewd businessman, reveled in his wealth and fame, opening Berry Park, a custom-built estate/amusement park in Wentzville, Mo., in 1957.
He was prosecuted for transporting an underage girl across state lines and served a year and a half in federal prison. I posted a photo to Instagram shortly after the first song and quoted Berry as saying, “You won’t remember that one because I don’t remember it”.
In 2003, “Roll Over Beethoven”, in addition to 49 other songs, were added to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry. Hell, their debut single, “Come On”, was a faithful Berry cover that managed to stand on its own merit simply thanks to the band’s sneering delivery. It’s a woozy, disorienting rocker, not unlike the otherworldly sonic template Berry himself mined on classics like “Havana Moon”.
Taylor Hackford, director of “Hail!”
Keith Urban thanked the guitarist, singer and songwriter for “the poetry, the passion and the potency”. I’m glad I had a chance to know, love, and work with Chuck Berry during my life and career.
Berry’s life got complicated after his sudden stardom. When bands go do their homework, they will have to listen to Chuck Berry.