JOHN LENNON SAID IT BEST: 'IF YOU TRIED TO GIVE ROCK AND ROLL ANOTHER NAME, YOU MIGHT CALL IT CHUCK BERRY'. PROFOUND WORDS FROM ONE SUPERSTAR ABOUT ANOTHER. CHUCK BERRY WAS AMONG THE FIRST MUSICIANS TO BE INDUCTED TO THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME. FROM BLUES TO ROCK, HIS EARLIEST WORK, 'MAYBELLENE' SKYROCKETED ON THE CHARTS. FAMOUS FOR 'ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN', CHUCK, HOWEVER, HAD A SEEDIER SIDE TO HIS LIFE, WHICH BROUGHT HIM DOWN LOW. HIS LEGAL CAREER SCANDALS ARE THE FODDER THAT ADDS COLOUR TO AN ALREADY COLOURFUL LIFE AND HIS PROBLEMS WITH THE LADIES WERE AN EVER PRESENT BLACK MARK ON AN OTHERWISE SPECTACULAR LIFE. 1959 WAS NOT A GOOD YEAR FOR MR. ROCK AND ROLL, ESPECIALLY WHEN HE INVITED AN UNDERAGED GIRL TO WORK AS A HAT CHECK GIRL AT HIS NIGHTCLUB IN ST. LOUIS. AFTER BEING FIRED FROM THE CLUB, THE GIRL WAS ARRESTED ON PROSTITUTION CHARGES AND BERRY WAS ARRESTED UNDER THE MANN ACT, TRANSPORTING THIS CHICKIE ACROSS STATE LINES. A BIG NO NO. HE WAS FINED AND SENTENCED TO FIVE YEARS IN PRISON. WHILE NOT THE ONLY MUSICIAN/SINGER TO BE ARRESTED, THIS PARTICULAR EVENT FOLLOWED HIM FOR HIS ENTIRE CAREER. OH, THERE'S MORE TO CHUCK'S LIFE STORY, HIMSELF BEING SUED BY SEVERAL WOMEN THROUGHOUT HIS LIFE. SEE IT ALL, READ IT ALL BECAUSE WE'VE COLLECTED ALL THE JUICY TIDBITS YOU'LL EVER WANT, MARKING A LONG, ILLUSTRIOUS AND SCANDAL RIDDEN CAREER BY THE VERY MAN WHO PUT ROCK AND ROLL ON THE MAP!

Chuck Berry had been playing the blues since his teens and by early 1953 was performing with Sir John's Trio, a band that played at a popular club called The Cosmopolitan, in East St. Louis, Illinois. The group included Berry's long-time collaborator and the group's namesake, piano man, Johnnie Johnson. Although the band played mostly blues and ballads, the most popular music among whites in the area was hillbilly. Berry wrote that "Curiosity provoked me to lay a lot of our country stuff on our predominantly black audience and some of our black audience began whispering "who is that black hillbilly at the Cosmo?" After they laughed at me a few times they began requesting the hillbilly stuff and enjoyed dancing to it." In May, 1955, Berry traveled to Chicago where he met Muddy Waters who suggested he contact Leonard Chess of Chess Records. Signed to a recording contract, that September he released a unique version of the traditional fiddle tune "Ida Red" under the title "Maybellene". The song, which featured a new set of modern lyrics and a driving beat, eventually peaked at #5 on the Billboard magazine Billboard charts. At the end of June 1956, his song "Roll Over Beethoven" reached #29 on the Billboard charts. Berry's early LP records sometimes contained well-delivered blues standards to round out the customary dozen tracks. In the autumn of 1957 Berry joined the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly and other rising stars of the new rock and roll to tour the United States. The hits continued from 1957 to 1959, with Berry scoring over a dozen chart singles during this period, including the top 10 U.S. hits "School Day", "Rock and Roll Music", "Sweet Little Sixteen" and "Johnny B. Goode". Robert Palmer wrote that Chuck Berry’s songs tended to feature country-and-western inflected light blues melodies, along with plenty of guitar twang. He also had a taste for the "Spanish tinge", as in "La Juanda" and "Havana Moon". In December 1959, after scoring a string of hit songs and while touring often, Berry had legal problems after he invited a 14-year-old Apache waitress that he met in Mexico to work as a hat check girl at Berry's Club Bandstand, his nightclub in St. Louis. After being fired from the club, the girl was arrested on a prostitution charge and Berry was arrested under the Mann Act. Berry was convicted, fined $5,000 and sentenced to five years in prison. This event, coupled with other early rock and roll scandals—such as Jerry Lee Lewis' marriage to his 13-year-old cousin and Alan Freed's payola conviction—gave rock and roll an image problem that limited its acceptance into mainstream U.S. society. However, when Berry was released from prison in 1963, his musical career enjoyed a resurgence due to many of the British Invasion acts of the 1960s—most notably the Beatles and the Rolling Stones—releasing cover versions of classic Berry hits. In 1964–65 Berry resumed recording and placed 6 singles in the U.S. Hot 100, including "No Particular Place To Go" (#10), "You Never Can Tell" (#14), and "Nadine" (#23). In 1990 Berry was sued by several women who claimed that he had installed a video camera in the ladies' bathrooms at two of his St. Louis restaurants. A class action settlement was eventually reached with 59 women on the complaint. Berry's biographer, Bruce Pegg, estimated that it cost Berry over $1.2 million plus legal fees. A Miami purveyor of celebrity sex videos is currently marketing video footage purporting to show Berry urinating on a young woman in a bathtub. Although the voice sounds similar to Berry's his face is never visible on the tape, making positive identification impossible. In the 1970s Berry toured on the basis of his earlier successes. He was on the road for many years, carrying only his Gibson guitar, confident that he could hire a band that already knew his music no matter where he went. Among the many bandleaders performing this backup role were Bruce Springsteen and Steve Miller when each was just starting their careers. Springsteen related in the video Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll that Berry did not even give the band a set list and just expected the musicians to follow his lead after each guitar intro. Neither did he speak to nor thank the band after the show. Nevertheless, Springsteen backed Berry again when he appeared at the concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. This type of touring style, traveling the "oldies" circuit in the 1970s—where he was often paid in cash by local promoters—added ammunition to the Internal Revenue Service's indictment that Berry was a chronic income tax evader. The third time Berry would face criminal sanction was after pleading guilty to tax evasion and was sentenced to four months imprisonment and 1,000 hours of community service—doing benefit concerts—in 1979. In 1979, Berry released Rockit for Atco Records, his last studio album to date. A pioneer of rock and roll, Chuck Berry was a significant influence on the development of early rock and roll guitar techniques and a major catalyst in the rhythm and blues to rock & roll transition. His guitar style is legendary and many later guitar musicians acknowledge him as a major influence in their own style. When Keith Richards inducted Berry into the Hall of Fame he said, "It's hard for me to induct Chuck Berry, because I lifted every lick he ever played!". Richard Berry (no relation) drew on Chuck Berry's "Havana Moon" as an inspiration for his own song, the now classic "Louie Louie". John Lennon, another devotee of Berry, borrowed a line from Berry's "You Can't Catch Me" for his song "Come Together", and was subsequently sued by Berry's music publisher Morris Levy. Nevertheless, they became good friends and played together on more than one occasion.

No one will ever forget one of Chuck's biggest hits, 'Johnny B. Goode'. Ironic title, since Chuck had only a brief history of being 'good' and on the right side of the law. His problems with women gave him a checkered past. Remembered for his signature 'duck walk' is well overshadowed by the fact that Mr. Berry did not, could not, would not, stay within the law. He didn't just touch the wrong side of the tracks. He served jail time for breaking the law. His penchant for younger ladies got him in trouble over and over again, throughout his career. We're here to tell you the story, show you the materials we've gathered and give you the good time that Chuck would have wanted for his fans. So, let's let the good times roll with the scandal that has brought Chuck Berry to his knees and to jail sentencing. Nothing, however, keeps this dynamo down for long as you'll see when you download what we've got for your very own collection!

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