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» Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry
Born: October 18, 1926 in St. Louis, Mi
Active: '50s-2010s Major
Styles: Rock & Roll
Instrument: Guitar Representative
Albums: "The Chess Box", "His Best, Vol. 1", "His Best, Vol. 2" Representative
Songs: "Johnny B. Goode", "Roll over Beethoven", "Sweet Little Sixteen"

UPC Type Title
602498613504 CD After School Session
4988005620606 (i) CD After School Session
4988005792280 (i) CD After School Session with
5017261210098 (i) CD After School Session/Berry Is on Top
829421142607 Vinyl After School Sessions-the Deluxe Edition
008811230425 (i) CD Anthology
4988005623188 (i) CD Back Home
076731126029 CD Berry Is on Top
829421143505 Vinyl Berry Is on Top
4988005525109 (i) CD Best
4988005712394 (i) CD Best of
5060143492792 (i) CD Best of Chuck Berry
008811951023 (i) CD Best of Chuck Berry
5060143490866 (i) CD Best of the Chess Years
5060143491788 (i) Vinyl Best of the Chess Years
600753074145 (i) CD Best of-Green Series
4988005432810 (i) CD Best Selection
4988005623218 (i) CD Bio
602498001301 CD Blues
076741080120 CD Chess Box
076732937129 CD Chuck Berry: Vol. 1-His Best
5051503207521 CD Chuck Berry-Sweet Little Rock 'N' Roller
5050457090821 (i) CD Chuck Berry Is on Top
4000127171399 (i) CD Chuck Berry Rocks
5017261203946 (i) CD Chuck Berry/More Chuck Berry
4988005620668 (i) CD Chuck Berry on Stage
602498081785 (i) CD Chuck Berry
4988005623225 (i) CD Chuck Berry
4988005623164 (i) CD Chuck Berry in London
5017261203953 (i) CD Chuck Berry in London/Fresh Berrys
5032427115505 (i) CD Classic Years
600753012697 (i) CD Colour Collection
5413992503179 CD Confessin' My Blues
602498808801 CD Definitive Collection
723721174057 CD Father of Rock & Roll
723721526351 CD Father of Rock & Roll
5036408129222 (i) CD Five Classic Albums Plus
4988005623171 (i) CD Fresh Berry's
602498805589 CD Gold
042282625625 CD Golden Hits
090204900831 CD Greatest Hits
8436542014502 (i) CD Greatest Hits
076732621721 CD Hail! Hail! Rock'N Roll
4988005623232 (i) CD Hail!hail!rock 'N' Roll
602527273464 CD Have Mercy-His Complete Chess Recordings 1969-74
015668101723 CD Hollywood Palladium
602527612225 CD Icon
823564620428 CD In the 1950's
4988005792310 (i) CD Is on Top
723724048225 CD Johnny B Goode
8712273050768 (i) CD Johnny B Goode
602517407763 CD Johnny B. Goode His Complete '50s Chess Recordings
090204624485 CD Johnny B. Goode-His Greatest
5017261204288 (i) CD Latest & Greatest/You Never Can Tell
824046015725 CD Live
8712177055548 (i) CD Live & in the Studio
731452020321 CD Live at Fillmore Auditorium-Sa
5018755245817 DVD Live at the Toronto Peace Fe
5060230861456 (i) DVD Lost Broadcasts
8712177050574 (i) CD Maybellene
008811194420 CD Millennium Collection-20th Century Masters
5050457113629 (i) CD New Juke Box Hits
4988005620644 (i) CD New Juke-Box Hits
029667139724 (i) CD On the Blues Side
5050457097929 (i) CD One Dozen Berrys
4988005620613 (i) CD One Dozen Berrys
4988005792303 (i) CD One Dozen Berrys
8436028690749 (i) CD One Dozen Berrys/Chuck Berry Is on Top
5017261204585 (i) CD One Dozen Berrys/Juke Box Hits
8436542011396 (i) Vinyl One Dozen Berrys
8712177056842 (i) Vinyl Rockin
8436542011204 (i) CD Rockin' at the Hops/New Juke Box Hits
4988005620637 (i) CD Rockin' at the Hops
5024952383153 (i) CD Rockin' the Hits
3700139306550 (i) CD Rock'N'Roll Music
690978395088 (i) CD Rocks
8436028693948 (i) CD Rollin' Till the Break of Dawn
664425405828 CD San Francisco Dues
4988005623195 (i) CD San Francisco Dues
664425405811 Vinyl San Francisco Dues
602498613528 CD St. Louis to Liverpo
4260019713827 Vinyl St. Louis to Liverpool
4988005620675 (i) CD St.Louis to Liverpool
4011809894291 (i) CD Starpower
4988067037589 (i) CD Twin Best
4988005620651 (i) CD Twist
604988051926 (i) CD Ultimate 50s Singles- as & Bs
602498289198 (i) CD Ultimate Chuck Berry
008811775124 (i) CD Ultimate Collection
008811217228 (i) CD Universal Masters Collection
636551982825 CD You Can't Catch Me
602517937833 CD You Never Can Tell: His Complete Chess Recordings

Biography: Of all the early breakthrough rock & roll artists, none is more important to the development of the music than Chuck Berry. He is its greatest songwriter, the main shaper of its instrumental voice, one of its greatest guitarists, and one of its greatest performers. Quite simply, without him there would be no Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, nor a myriad others. There would be no standard "Chuck Berry guitar intro," the instrument's clarion call to get the joint rockin' in any setting. The clippety-clop rhythms of rockabilly would not have been mainstreamed into the now standard 4/4 rock & roll beat. There would be no obsessive wordplay by modern-day tunesmiths; in fact, the whole history (and artistic level) of rock & roll songwriting would have been much poorer without him. Like Brian Wilson said, he wrote "all of the great songs and came up with all the rock & roll beats." Those who do not claim him as a seminal influence or profess a liking for his music and showmanship show their ignorance of rock's development as well as his place as the music's first great creator. Elvis may have fueled rock & roll's imagery, but Chuck Berry was its heartbeat and original mindset.

He was born Charles Edward Anderson Berry to a large family in St. Louis. A bright pupil, Berry developed a love for poetry and hard blues early on, winning a high school talent contest with a guitar-and-vocal rendition of Jay McShann's big band number, "Confessin' the Blues." With some local tutelage from the neighborhood barber, Berry progressed from a four-string tenor guitar up to an official six-string model and was soon working the local East St. Louis club scene, sitting in everywhere he could. He quickly found out that black audiences liked a wide variety of music and set himself to the task of being able to reproduce as much of it as possible. What he found they really liked -- besides the blues and Nat King Cole tunes -- was the sight and sound of a black man playing white hillbilly music, and Berry's showmanlike flair, coupled with his seemingly inexhaustible supply of fresh verses to old favorites, quickly made him a name on the circuit. In 1954, he ended up taking over pianist Johnny Johnson's small combo and a residency at the Cosmopolitan Club soon made the Chuck Berry Trio the top attraction in the black community, with Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm their only real competition.

But Berry had bigger ideas; he yearned to make records, and a trip to Chicago netted a two-minute conversation with his idol Muddy Waters, who encouraged him to approach Chess Records. Upon listening to Berry's homemade demo tape, label president Leonard Chess professed a liking for a hillbilly tune on it named "Ida Red" and quickly scheduled a session for May 21, 1955. During the session the title was changed to "Maybellene" and rock & roll history was born. Although the record only made it to the mid-20s on the Billboard pop chart, its overall influence was massive and groundbreaking in its scope. Here was finally a black rock & roll record with across-the-board appeal, embraced by white teenagers and Southern hillbilly musicians (a young Elvis Presley, still a full year from national stardom, quickly added it to his stage show), that for once couldn't be successfully covered by a pop singer like Snooky Lanson on Your Hit Parade. Part of the secret to its originality was Berry's blazing 24-bar guitar solo in the middle of it, the imaginative rhyme schemes in the lyrics, and the sheer thump of the record, all signaling that rock & roll had arrived and it was no fad. Helping to put the record over to a white teenage audience was the highly influential New York disc jockey Alan Freed, who had been given part of the writers' credit by Chess in return for his spins and plugs. But to his credit, Freed was also the first white DJ/promoter to consistently use Berry on his rock & roll stage show extravaganzas at the Brooklyn Fox and Paramount theaters (playing to predominately white audiences); and when Hollywood came calling a year or so later, also made sure that Chuck appeared with him in Rock! Rock! Rock!, Go, Johnny, Go!, and Mister Rock'n'Roll. Within a years' time, Chuck had gone from a local St. Louis blues picker making 15 dollars a night to an overnight sensation commanding over a hundred times that, arriving at the dawn of a new strain of popular music called rock & roll.

The hits started coming thick and fast over the next few years, every one of them about to become a classic of the genre: "Roll Over Beethoven," "Thirty Days," "Too Much Monkey Business," "Brown Eyed Handsome Man," "You Can't Catch Me," "School Day," "Carol," "Back in the U.S.A.," "Little Queenie," "Memphis, Tennessee," "Johnny B. Goode," and the tune that defined the moment perfectly, "Rock and Roll Music." Berry was not only in constant demand, touring the country on mixed package shows and appearing on television and in movies, but smart enough to know exactly what to do with the spoils of a suddenly successful show business career. He started investing heavily in St. Louis area real estate and, ever one to push the envelope, opened up a racially mixed nightspot called the Club Bandstand in 1958 to the consternation of uptight locals. These were not the plans of your average R&B singers who contented themselves with a wardrobe of flashy suits, a new Cadillac, and the nicest house in the black section. Berry was smart with plenty of business savvy and was already making plans to open an amusement park in nearby Wentzville. When the St. Louis hierarchy found out that an underage hat-check girl Berry hired had also set up shop as a prostitute at a nearby hotel, trouble came down on Berry like a sledgehammer on a fly. Charged with transporting a minor over state lines (the Mann Act), Berry endured two trials and was sentenced to federal prison for two years as a result.

He emerged from prison a moody, embittered man. But two very important things had happened in his absence. First, British teenagers had discovered his music and were making his old songs hits all over again. Second, and perhaps most important, America had discovered the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, both of whom based their music on Berry's style, with the Stones' early albums looking like a Berry song list. Rather than being resigned to the has-been circuit, Berry found himself in the midst of a worldwide beat boom with his music as the centerpiece. He came back with a clutch of hits ("Nadine," "No Particular Place to Go," "You Never Can Tell"), toured Britain in triumph, and appeared on the big screen with his British disciples in the groundbreaking T.A.M.I. Show in 1964.

Berry had moved with the times and found a new audience in the bargain and when the cries of "yeah-yeah-yeah" were replaced with peace signs, Berry altered his live act to include a passel of slow blues and quickly became a fixture on the festival and hippie ballroom circuit. After a disastrous stint with Mercury Records, he returned to Chess in the early '70s and scored his last hit with a live version of the salacious nursery rhyme, "My Ding a Ling," yielding Berry his first official gold record. By decade's end, he was as in demand as ever, working every oldies revival show, TV special, and festival that was thrown his way. But once again, troubles with the law reared their ugly head and 1979 saw Berry headed back to prison, this time for income tax evasion. Upon release this time, the creative days of Chuck Berry seemed to have come to an end. He appeared as himself in the Alan Freed bio-pic, American Hot Wax, and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but steadfastly refused to record any new material or even issue a live album. His live performances became increasingly erratic, with Berry working with terrible backup bands and turning in sloppy, out-of-tune performances that did much to tarnish his reputation with younger fans and oldtimers alike. In 1987, he published his first book, Chuck Berry: The Autobiography, and the same year saw the film release of what will likely be his lasting legacy, the rockumentary Hail! Hail! Rock'n'Roll, which included live footage from a 60th-birthday concert with Keith Richards as musical director and the usual bevy of superstars coming out for guest turns. But for all of his off-stage exploits and seemingly ongoing troubles with the law, Chuck Berry remains the epitome of rock & roll, and his music will endure long after his private escapades have faded from memory. Because when it comes down to his music, perhaps John Lennon said it best, "If you were going to give rock & roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'." ~ Cub Koda, Rovi