Chuck Berry, the "Lapsed Baptist," Dies

Chuck Berry

Rock n'roll icon Chuck Berry has passed away on March 18.  He was 90 years-old.  The St Charles County Police Department announced his death in a post on their Facebook page.

"The St Charles County Police Department sadly confirms the death of Charles Edward Anderson Berry Sr, better known as legendary musician Chuck Berry," it said. 

Police said they were called to a medical emergency at a Buckner Road address at about 12:40pm on Saturday (local time).  "Inside the home, first responders observed an unresponsive man and immediately administered lifesaving techniques," the police department said.

"Unfortunately, the 90-year-old man could not be revived and was pronounced deceased at 1:26pm. "The family requests privacy during this time of bereavement."

Berry was one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. With songs such as "Maybellene" (1955), "Roll Over Beethoven" (1956), "Rock and Roll Music" (1957) and "Johnny B. Goode" (1958), Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive, with lyrics focusing on teen life and consumerism and music featuring guitar solos and showmanship that were a major influence on subsequent rock music 

Berry had a very religious upbringing. His father was a Baptist deacon and the family attended the Antioch Baptist Church of Elleadsville, a suburb of St. Louis. This is where Berry began his life of music, singing in the church choir. In fact, the church choir often rehearsed at the Berry family home.

But there's a reason Berry is sometimes listed as a "lapsed Baptist." As an adult, Berry seems to have given up on faith altogether. He was in and out of prison for much of his life, once for armed robbery, once for transporting a 14-year-old girl across state lines and having sex with her and once for tax evasion.

However, themes from his religious upbringing occasionally pop up in his music. He wrote in his autobiography that the song "Down Bound Train" (which he didn't write, but gave it a new name) spoke to his "fire and brimstone" upbringing. It's a song about riding a train piloted by the devil and the dangers of alcoholism.



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