Chuck Berry was found dead on Saturday at his home in Missouri. The singer-guitarist was 90 years old. Calling it a sad day for rock ‘n’ roll fans around the world, Eddie Prithviraj, a city-based rock musician credited with organising several high-profile music fests in the city says, “Last year, we saw the passing of many great artistes like Prince, George Michael, Glenn Frey and so on. However, Chuck Berry surpassed them all, as he was essentially a pioneer in this genre of music. He put forth the idea of inspired solos or singular performances by the lead guitarists, which is replicated to this day. Growing up in an Anglo-Indian community, I had my brush with his music early on. My very first memory of the musician was courtesy the sci-fi film, Back to the Future, released in Casino theatre in 1985. It features the protagonist belting out the hit song Johnnie B. Goode in one of the most exciting moments in film history.”
As per Shaji Chen, a music reviewer and an author of many music-centric books in Tamil, English and Malayalam, Berry’s music even shaped the American socio-political dialogue. He tells us, “Berry’s contribution to western music is immeasurable. He single-handedly gave birth to the genre called rock and was the starting point for everything. He also invented the duckwalk (a stylised move while playing the guitar). More than that, his music cut across racial barriers at a time when the United States of America was reeling from communal tensions and the African American community’s fight for equality found resonance in Berry’s popularity among the masses.
Shamita Naren, an advertising professional and a fan of Berry’s music tells us, “It was many summers back in the year 2005, when I first heard Berry crooning, jiving and tearing down the stage with his seemingly infinite energy. I instantly fell in love with the man and wondered if he was perhaps the most extraordinary of all rock ‘n’ rollers. We will never have another ‘Johnnie B. Goode’ or a legend like Berry singing, ‘Roll over Beethoven’ or do a ‘Maybellene’ and reminisce about ‘Sweet little sixteen’? But Berry will continue to rock ‘n’ roll in our hearts forever.