Chuck Berry was born on October 18 1926 in the Ville, a self-contained middle-class black community in St. Louis, at a time when the city was totally segregated. The first time he saw a white person was when he was three years old, and white firemen put out a fire. ''I thought they were so frightened that their faces were whitened from fear of going near the big fire,'' he said once. ''Daddy told me they were white people, and their skin was always white that way, day or night."
But as a musician finding fame in the 1950s, he was one of the first black musicians to be popular with a white audience. His music won the hearts of everybody, regardless of race. That's just who he was. "I made records for people who would buy them. No color, no ethnic, no political—I don't want that, never did.''
"I am so sad to hear of Chuck Berry's passing. I want to thank him for all the inspirational music he gave to us. He lit up our teenage years, and blew life into our dreams of being musicians and performers. His lyrics shone above others and threw a strange light on the American dream. Chuck, you were amazing, and your music is engraved inside us forever." Mick Jagger
"Whatever its transcendent artistic import, music in its myriad manifestations ...has traditionally been an art form that enabled people who weren't born rich to make a living, and not merely to whine about their skanky girlfriends. This is what makes Johnny B Goode such a special cultural artifact. Probably the first song ever written about how much money a musician could make by playing the guitar, no song in the history of rock'n'roll more jubilantly celebrates the downmarket socioeconomic roots of the genre." The Guardian
If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'
"I don't even know if Chuck realizes what he did. I don't think he does... It was just such a total thing, a great sound, a great rhythm coming off the needle of all of Chuck's records. It's when I knew what I wanted to do." Keith Richards
“Legend. Architect. He built the tools that built the house. Rock on forever. #RIP Chuck Berry.”
'No-one else shaped the instrumental voice and lyrical attitude of rock like Chuck. His recordings were lean, modern and thrilling. In the words of pop critic Bob Stanley, "they sounded like the tail fins on Cadillacs".' BBC