Musician Chuck Berry, long credited as one of the founders and great innovators of rock and roll, was found dead in his home in St. Charles County, Missouri on the afternoon of 18 March 2017, according to police.
An announcement was posted on the St. Charles County Police Dept. Facebook page after officers responded to a medical emergency call at the musician’s home:
The cause of death was not revealed. Berry was 90 years old.
Berry, whose classic recording “Johnny B. Goode” was famously featured among the representative artifacts of human civilization launched into space aboard NASA’s Voyager spacecraft in 1977, also wrote, performed, and recorded such rock and roll hits as “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Maybellene,” “Sweet Little Sixteen,” and “Too Much Monkey Business.”
Bob Dylan called him “irreplaceable.”
Born Charles Anderson Edward Berry in St. Louis, Missouri on 18 October 1926, Berry took to music at a young age, performing in his high school’s annual talent show and studying guitar with local jazz musician Ira Harris. He dropped out of school at 17, however, fell in with a bad crowd and was arrested for robbery, for which he served three years in a juvenile reformatory.
After being released on good behavior, Berry returned to St. Louis, where he worked a series of jobs and married the love of his life, Themetta “Toddy” Suggs, before picking up the guitar again and starting to play local nightclubs for money. In 1955, he wrote and recorded “Maybellene” for Chess Records in Chicago. It hit the top of the R&B charts and number five on the pop charts that same year, and is regarded by some as the first “true” rock and roll recording.
Berry was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1985, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award the same year. He never gave up performing and recording, however, and was working on a new album when he died.
He is survived by his wife and four children.