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October 18

Chuck Berry

As gifted a writer as he was a performer, Chuck Berry’s songs became classics: “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Johnny B. Goode” burned up the record charts.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

1926: The Father of Rock and Roll
Chuck Berry is born in St. Louis, Missouri
There’s good reason why Chuck Berry was the very first inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Berry not only defined the rock and roll sound, he created it. His 1955 song “Maybellene” was, in many ways, the first song of this musical genre, and its debut proved a pivotal moment in music history. Like many of his contemporaries, Berry began by playing the blues.

But audiences responded most enthusiastically when he played what was at the time considered “hillbilly” music: the rollicking infectious rhythms born of bluegrass. Berry added his own twists, like electrifying guitar playing, clever wordplay, and, above all, a vitality that made his audiences want to get up and dance. The resulting music was irresistible to young people and caught on like wildfire.
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