1954, Chuck led pianist Johnny Johnson’s small combo at the Cosmopolitan Club St Louis becoming a major attraction with black audiences, (Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm their only competitor).
1955 He went to Chicago and briefly met Muddy Waters, who told him to see Chess Records. There after listening to his demo tape Leonard Chess liked Chucks hillbilly tune named “Ida Red” a recording session was arranged and on May 21 1955 history was put on tape, the title was changed to “Maybellene” upon release it only reached the mid-20s on the USA Billboard pop chart, but its influence reverberated for many years after.
The hits flowed over the next few years: “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Thirty Days,” “Too Much Monkey Business,” “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” “You Can’t Catch Me,” “School Days” “Carol” “Back in the U.S.A.” “Little Queenie, “Memphis, Tennessee,” “Johnny B. Goode” “Rock and Roll Music.”Then problems truck. Charged with transporting a minor over state lines (the Mann Act) Jailed for sex with a minor; Sweet Little Sixteen..he was sentenced to federal prison for two years.
While in prison British teenagers discovered his music and UK re-releases were making his old songs hits over again. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, copied, covered, and played live Chucks repertoire – especially the Stones.
1964 He bounced back with “Nadine” “No Particular Place to Go” “You Never Can Tell” and toured the UK.
For a short time he recorded with Mercury Records, returning to Chess in 72s and hit with a live recording; “My Ding a Ling” which became his first official gold record.
1979 back to prison, this time for income tax evasion.
1987, he published his first book; Chuck Berry: The Autobiography.
Famous quote about Chuck is John Lennon said : “If you were going to give rock & roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’.”
But it’s a pity about his drugs bust at his restaurant when the cops found cocaine and stacks of videos of the women’s toilets! – See ‘Chucks Toilet’ link below. Chuck, like James Brown kept on heading for trouble with the law.
MAYBELLENE USA no1 1955
ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN
BROWN EYED HANDSOME MAN
SCHOOL DAYS (1957)
GO GO GO
REELIN AND A ROCKIN
NO PARTICULAR PLACE TO GO
YOU NEVER CAN TELL
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