Rock ‘n’ roll would sound very different without Chuck Berry’s immense contribution. Here are six facts about Berry, who died on Saturday at the age of 90:
* Before music, Berry worked as a carpenter, a freelance photographer, auto plant janitor and hairdresser.
* Despite writing several rock ‘n’ roll classics, Berry’s only No. 1 song was 1972’s My Ding-a-Ling, a live recording of a novelty song he had written years earlier. Many radio stations refused to play it because of its bawdy nature.
* Berry’s trouble with the law started early. A teenage Berry ended up in reform school for armed robbery.
* In 1972 Berry told Rolling Stone that his anthemic Johnnie B. Goode originally had a line saying “that little coloured boy could play” but he changed it to “country boy” in order to get it on the radio. The song was partly autobiographical.
* Berry’s 60th birthday concert, featured in the documentary Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll, was filmed in 1986 at the Fox Theatre. The same St. Louis theater had turned away Berry for racist reasons in his childhood when his father took him there to see the movie A Tale of Two Cities.
* An 2.4-metre bronze statue of Berry was unveiled near St. Louis in 2011, despite protests that it was inappropriate because of Berry’s criminal record.