Biography of Rock Star Chuck Berry Part 1

About the famous rock n' roll star Chuck Berry, history and biography of the musician.



While the Jazz Age was at its height in the smoke-filled speakeasies of Chicago and New York, Chuck Berry--harbinger of a new musical form--was lying in his cradle in San Jose, Calif. Berry was born into an entirely different world than that of the musical innovators of the 1920s, but he was to make use of Jazz, as well as other musical traditions, in the development of his own special kind of music: rock 'n' roll.

Soon after his birth, Berry's family moved to Elleardsville, a suburb of St. Louis. Although raised in a secure middle-class environment, Berry was not without his growing pains, namely, a three-year term in reform school for attempted robbery. After his release, he entered the world of blue-collar work at the General Motors plant in St. Louis. Dissatisfied with the routine nature of the job, he attended night school to learn a new profession, and in the early 1950s he set up a hairdressing and cosmetology business. His first hit, "Maybelline," reflected his new life as a hairstylist.

His nights free from study, he next turned to his real love--honky-tonk guitar. He played in all the local nightclubs until he saved enough money for a trip to Chicago, the blues capital of the world, to hear the legendary Muddy Waters. When Waters invited Berry to perform onstage, the electricity of Berry's new hard-beat blues attracted so much attention that he was soon signed up by Leonard Chess of Chess Records. His career was on the launching pad.

Keeping in mind his own one-third share of the royalties, New York music producer Alan Freed pushed "Maybelline" to the top of the charts. Once financially and professionally ensconced, Berry set out to write and record a series of powerfully rhythmic songs, which carried some of the most creative lyrics of the rock era. In 1957 his successes included "School Days," "Rock and Roll Music," and "Oh, Baby Doll." The following year witnessed the release of his hit singles "Sweet Little Sixteen" and "Johnny B. Goode," in addition to his first two albums, "After School Sessions" and "One Dozen Berrys."

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