A sad day for fans of rock and roll: Chuck Berry has died at age 90, reports ABC News. Details are sketchy, but police in St. Charles County, Missouri, responded to a medical emergency at Berry's home Saturday afternoon, but he was unresponsive and could not be revived. Berry first hit the Top 10 in 1955 with "Maybellene," and remained a rock fixture from then on. Coming later was the iconic "Johnny B. Goode," (watch that one here) and a slew of classics such as "Roll Over Beethoven," "Sweet Little Sixteen," "School Days," "Rock and Roll Music," "Back in the USA," and "Memphis, Tennessee." As Rolling Stone puts it, his "rollicking songs, springy guitar riffs and onstage duck walk defined (rock and roll) during its early years and for decades to come."
The Washington Post notes that he was not only a "seminal figure" in rock's early days, he was a rarity in that he wrote, sang, and played his own music. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen are just a few of those who considered him a major influence. In fact, John Lennon once famously said, "If you tried to give rock-and-roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry.'" The St. Louis native began his musical career at age 15 at a high school review, though his first hit didn't come until his late 20s, notes AP, whose story recounts Berry's multiple run-ins with the law. It also sums up his influence on music this way: "While Elvis Presley gave rock its libidinous, hip-shaking image, Berry was the auteur, setting the template for a new sound and way of life. Well before the rise of Bob Dylan, Berry wedded social commentary to the beat and rush of popular music." (Read more Chuck Berry stories.)