Chuck Berry, often called the 'Father of Rock 'n' Roll,' died today in St. Louis. Police responded to a medical emergency and he could not be revived. Berry was 90 years old.
Berry is known in part for classic songs, such as "Johnny B. Goode," but mostly for inspiring some of the biggest names in music. In fact, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, old school mates who'd lost touch, re-connected when Keith saw Mick holding a Chuck Berry record. In a famous letter to his aunt before the Rolling Stones hit it big, a 19-year-old Keith Richards gushes about meeting Mick and playing guitar "Chuck style." The Rolling Stones played its first gig around three months after that fateful meeting.
Berry inspired others, of course, and the names read like a 'Who's Who' of music: Smokey Robinson, Joan Jett, Bob Seger, Roy Orbison, Stevie Wonder. In fact, John Lennon once said, "If you tried to give rock and roll another name you might call it Chuck Berry."
His influence was not limited to musicians. Even Carl Sagan was a fan. On Berry's 60th birthday, Sagan wrote him a special letter. In it, he said:
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 interstellar 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.
Upon hearing of his passing, top artists, leaders and scientists took to Twitter. For a sense of Berry's impact, take a look at their tributes.