Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Chuck Berry Dies at 90

Chuck Berry performing in Cleveland in 2012. - Joe Kleon
Joe Kleon
Chuck Berry performing in Cleveland in 2012.
Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s first class, singer-guitarist Chuck Berry died yesterday at his home just outside of St. Louis. He was 90.

In 2012, the Rock Hall devoted its week-long American Music Masters Series tribute to the man. The series culminated in a gala concert held at the State Theatre that featured a few fantastic guests who are no longer with us, including Merle Haggard and Lemmy Kilmister.

That concert began with an introduction by then-Rock Hall CEO and President Terry Stewart, who accurately described Berry as the “guy who put all the [rock 'n’ roll] pieces together.” Clearly a fan, Stewart revealed his personal connection to Berry’s music when he said he wished he could live inside a Chuck Berry song, a sentiment he returned to at several points throughout the concert.

Berry even performed at the end of the concert, and despite some musical miscues, he played signature tracks “Johnny B. Goode” and “Reelin’ and Rockin’” and joined the other musicians for the rousing closing number, “Rock and Roll Music.” He also pulled off his signature duck walk move without any trouble at all.

Last night, Rock Hall President & CEO Greg Harris issued the following statement on Berry's death:

"Chuck Berry is rock and roll. The undisputed original poet laureate, he influenced every rock and roll artist after him and every guitarist that ever plugged in. Today, we celebrate his poetry, his artistry and his massive contributions to 20th century culture. It's fitting that he was the first person inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Rock and roll as we know it would not exist without him. Hail Hail, Rock and Roll. Hail Hail, Chuck Berry."

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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