Chuck Berry, the guitarist and songwriter recognised as one of the fathers of rock ‘n’ roll, has died aged 90.
Berry’s seven-decade career boasted a string of hits, including classics Roll Over Beethoven and Johnny B. Goode.
He received a lifetime achievement Grammy in 1984 and was among the first inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
His death was confirmed by police in the US state of Missouri.
The singer was found unresponsive at 12:40 local time (17:40 GMT) on Saturday, St Charles County police said in a statement. He could not be revived and was pronounced dead at 13:26.
“The St. Charles County Police Department sadly confirms the death of Charles Edward Anderson Berry Sr., better known as legendary musician Chuck Berry,” it said.
High-profile musicians were quick to pay tribute to Berry’s talent and influence.
Motown legends The Jacksons tweeted: “Chuck Berry merged blues & swing into the phenomenon of early rock’n’roll. In music, he cast one of the longest shadows. Thank You Chuck.”
Singer-songwriter Huey Lewis described him as “maybe the most important figure in all of rock and roll”.
“His music and influence will last forever,” he added.
Beatles drummer Ringo Starr quoted one of Berry’s own lyrics on Twitter, saying: “Just let me hear some of that rock ‘n’ roll music any old way you use it.”
“I am playing I’m talking about you,” he wrote.
Both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones covered Berry’s songs, as did The Beach Boys and scores of other acts – including Elvis.
“If you tried to give rock ‘n’ roll another name,” John Lennon once said, “you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’.”
Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones said that Berry “lit up our teenage years and blew life into our dreams”.
Singer Bruce Springsteen called him “a giant for the ages”.
The novelist Stephen King noted that Berry had a long life for a consummate rock’n’roller, tweeting: “Chuck Berry died. This breaks my heart, but 90 years old ain’t bad for rock and roll. Johnny B. Goode forever.”
Berry was born in St Louis, Missouri, in 1926, and had his first hit, Maybellene, in 1955.
He went on to score a succession of hits that were aimed at adolescent audiences, transcending the colour bar that plagued many contemporary black artists.
Last year, he announced he would be releasing his first album in nearly four decades. He dedicated it to his wife of 68 years, Themetta “Toddy”.
The album, titled Chuck, was recorded in St Louis, Missouri. It will be released later this year, though a date has not been set.
IMAGE: Charles “Chuck” Berry was born in St Louis, Missouri on 18 October 1926 REUTERS
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