Iconic Spotlight : Chuck Berry, 1926 – 2017

‘Rock and roll will never die! In so many respects we have Chuck Berry to thank for that’ says Baron Wolman, the first Rolling Stone Magazine staff photographer who photographed Chuck Berry on several occasions . ‘Berry and his signature duckwalk took leave of the stage this week but left behind an idiom that inspired – continues to inspire – musicians and audiences alike. Chuck Berry was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter, and one of the foremost innovators of rock and roll music. With songs like “Rock and Roll Music,” “Maybellene,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” and “Johnny B. Goode,” paired with his inimitable guitar solos and his own unique brand of showmanship, he refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll so distinctive and compelling.’

However, Berry was notorious for being a bit difficult to work with. ‘He had personal problems bad enough to make any head spin’ , says Terry O’Neill, ‘but when he was with musicians and had a guitar in his hands… there was no stress, no tension, no anger – it was just the man and the music. Berry was happiest when he was on stage and running the show. I witnessed a few arguments between Berry and Keith Richards over who was going to play rhythm and who was going to play lead. By the way, Berry is the lead. Always was, always will be’ says Terry acknowledging the inspiration he engendered on rock n roll legends such as The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton.

Read more about Chuck Berry from Terry O’Neill in ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ and see our full archive of Chuck Berry photography here

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