Chuck Berry at 90 Releasing 1st Album in 38 Years

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Chuck Berry in an iconic ’50s photo

Chuck Berry turned 90 on October 18, 2016 and he’s not quite ready to hang up his rock and roll shoes! In a startling, unexpected announcement, Berry revealed on his birthday that he will release his first new album in 38 years in 2017. Simply titled Chuck, it will consist of all new material written by the man who gave rock music so many of its most beloved classics. The album, coming on the Dualtone label at an unspecified date, will also be produced by Berry. His accompanists will include two of his children– guitarist Charles Berry Jr. and harmonica player Ingrid Berry. Other players include bassist Jimmy Marsala, pianist Robert Lohr and drummer Keith Robinson.

In a statement, Berry said, “This record is dedicated to my beloved Toddy,” the nickname for his wife of 68 years, Themetta Berry.  “My darlin’, I’m growing old! I’ve worked on this record for a long time. Now I can hang up my shoes!”

Berry’s last album, in 1979, was called Rock It.

Here is our 90th birthday tribute to the man who was there from the start…

He is one of the architects of rock ‘n’ roll, born Charles Edward Anderson Berry on this day in St. Louis, Missouri. A guitarist from his teens, Chuck Berry learned a wide swath of styles sitting in with groups around St. Louis before he joined the Sir John Trio led by pianist Johnnie Johnson (whose style and, some say, melodies became part of Berry’s music). He drew attention in the combo due to his animated performing style and the seeming anomaly of singing white hillbilly music with the jazz/R&B group, which upped its popularity and drew white fans to their gigs.

In May 1955 Berry visited Chicago, and after seeing a show by Muddy Waters asked the bluesman how he could start making records. Waters referred Berry to Leonard Chess of Chess Records. On May 21, Berry recorded his adaptation of the Western swing song “Ida Red’ as “Maybellene” at Chess Studios. It became a Top 5 pop single, went #1 R&B and sold a million copies. From 1956-60 he recorded a number of chart singles that codified a substantial part of the rock ‘n’ roll style and ethos, marked by rollicking rhythms, clever wordplay and his snappy guitar lines that celebrated rock music (“Roll Over Beethoven,” “Rock ‘n’ Roll Music,” “Let It Rock”), teenage life (“School Day,” “Sweet Little Sixteen”) and prosperous 1950s America (“Back In The U.S.A.”) as well as, in a way, his own growing mythology (“Johnny B. Goode,” “You Can’t Catch Me”).

Berry was among the first 10 artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and his songs have been recorded by countless artists. Hear some of the best in our story 17 Classic Chuck Berry Covers.

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