Oct. 18, 1926

Chuck Berry circa 1958 Credit: Wikipedia

Chuck Berry, sometimes called “The Father of Rock & Roll,” was born in St. Louis. 

He traded factory work for music, and his big break came in 1955 when he met Muddy Waters, who suggested he contact Leonard Chess of Chess Records. Berry wound up recording “Maybellene,” which reached #1 on Billboard’s Rhythm and Blues Chart and sold more than 1 million copies. He went on to record “Johnny B. Goode,” “Roll Over Beethoven!” and “Rock and Roll Music,” which influenced the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys and countless others. 

Bob Dylan called Berry “the Shakespeare of rock ‘n’ roll,” and John Lennon declared, “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry.’” 

In 1986, Berry became the first inductee into the Rock & Rock Hall of Fame, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him #5 among the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time,” and in 2000, the Kennedy Center honored him. Before the Voyager departed earth for deep space, NASA officials included recordings of music from around the world, including Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and “Johnny B. Goode.”

More on this day


Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Take our 2023 reader survey

The stories of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His stories have also helped free two people from death row, exposed injustices and corruption, prompting investigations and reforms as well as the firings of boards and officials. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a longtime member of Investigative Reporters & Editors, and a winner of more than 30 other national awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant. After working for three decades for the statewide Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell left in 2019 and founded the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.