Chuck Berry turns 90 – hail, hail rock ‘n’ roll

Chuck Berry in 2003. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

Chuck Berry in 2003. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene blog

During his weekend set at Desert Trip, Paul McCartney made sure to send early birthday wishes to Chuck Berry.

The ‘50s-era rock icon turns 90 on Oct. 18 and it isn’t an exaggeration to say that his classics “Maybelline,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Johnny B. Goode” and a score of other memorable guitar chargers influenced most of that Desert Trip lineup – especially McCartney and The Rolling Stones.

Berry, a St. Louis native (though he was “90 miles out of Atlanta by sundown” in “Promised Land”), isn’t expected to celebrate in any grandiose fashion today – other than announcing the release of a new album called “Chuck,” his first in 38 years – but some music notables hopped on social media to send their best wishes.

E Street Band mainstay Steven Van Zandt referred to Berry as a “genius” in a response to a tweet inquiring what it was like to share the stage with the rock ‘n’ roll pioneer.

Noted music and TV writer David Wild reminded, “Don’t forget to thank him & #MichaelJFox for bringing us “Rock & Roll Music.”

And of course the St. Louis Cardinals chimed in.

During his performing career, Berry duck walked through Atlanta several times, playing at Georgia Tech in 1961, The Omni in 1973, Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater in Peachtree City in 2001 and Chastain Park Amphitheatre in 2003, among other appearances.

On the occasion of Berry’s landmark birthday, it’s probably fitting to proclaim “Hail, hail, rock ‘n’ roll.”

Here is Berry in 2012 as he closes out the 17th Annual Music Masters tribute concert with a performance of “Reelin’ and Rockin’,” in Cleveland.

 


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