Fans lined up before dawn on Sunday to pay their final respects to Chuck Berry. The Rolling Stones sent flowers in the shape of a guitar.
As fans filed past Berry’s open casket, which has his beloved cherry-red Gibson ES-335 electric guitar bolted to the inside of its lid, a musician outside played Berry standards such as “Johnny B. Goode,” ”Sweet Little Sixteen” and “Roll Over Beethoven.”
A private memorial service and celebration was scheduled to take place after the public viewing concluded, with only Berry’s friends and family permitted entry.The Pageant, a club where Berry often performed, opened its doors Sunday morning (April 8) for a four-hour public viewing, which will be followed by a private service and celebration for the musicians family and friends.
Police were called to Berry’s Missouri home on March 18 when he was found to be unresponsive. He was confirmed to have passed away that afternoon.
Berry was considered a pioneer of the rock and roll genre. His first single, ‘Maybellene’ was one of the first songs to be classified as a rock and roll hit. Berry won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award in 1984 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1986.
When Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards spoke about Berry at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 1986 induction ceremony — Berry was the first person inducted from that inaugural class — he said Berry was the one who started it all.
Well before the rise of Bob Dylan, Berry wedded social commentary to the beat and rush of popular music.
“He was singing good lyrics, and intelligent lyrics, in the ’50s when people were singing, “Oh, baby, I love you so,'” John Lennon once observed.
“Everything I wrote about wasn’t about me, but about the people listening,” Berry once said.