Some facts about rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry, who died Saturday at age 90

Some facts about rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry, who died Saturday at age 90

Rock and roll legend Chuck Berry poses for photographers during a concert in Burgos, northern Spain, November 25, 2007 Photograph: (Reuters)

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 20, 2017, 04.04 PM (IST)

Rock 'n' roll would sound very different without Chuck Berry's immense contribution. Here are some facts about Berry, who died on Saturday at the age of 90:

* Before music, Berry worked as a carpenter, a freelance photographer, auto plant janitor and hairdresser.

* Despite writing several rock 'n' roll classics, Berry's only number one song was 1972's "My Ding-a-Ling", a live recording of a novelty song he had written years earlier. Many radio stations refused to play it because of its bawdy nature.

* Berry's trouble with the law started early. A teenage Berry ended up in reform school for armed robbery.

He went to prison in 1962 for violating the Mann Act (transporting a minor across state lines for immoral purposes) after a teenage girl, who he met in Texas and hired to work in his St Louis nightclub, was arrested for prostitution.

In the 1970s he went back to prison for tax evasion. Several women filed suit in 1990 claiming Berry had secretly videotaped them in bathrooms of his restaurants.

* In 1972 Berry told Rolling Stone that his anthemic "Johnnie B Goode" originally had a line saying "that little coloured boy could play" but he changed it to "country boy" in order to get it on the radio. The song was partly autobiographical.

* Berry's 60th birthday concert, featured in the documentary "Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll", was filmed in 1986 at the Fox Theatre. The same St Louis theater had turned away Berry for racist reasons in his childhood when his father took him there to see the movie "A Tale of Two Cities".

* An 8-foot (2.4 metres) bronze statue of Berry was unveiled near St Louis in 2011, despite protests that it was inappropriate because of Berry's criminal record.

*The legendary astronomer and humanitarian Carl Sagan wrote a letter to Chuck Berry, putting his musical legacy into perspective: "When they tell you your music will live forever, you can usually be sure they're exaggerating. But Johnny B. Goode is on the Voyager interstaller records attached to NASA's Voyager spacecraft -- now two billion miles from Earth and bound for the stars...These records will last a billion years or more."

* A non-exhaustive list of music legends who covered his songs includes: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Elton John, The Sex Pistols and countless more.

(WION with inputs from Reuters)

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

Read about Berry's various run ins with the law, the legends who played his songs, and how Berry's music is literally out of this world

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