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Chuck Berry Timeline


1926

Charles Edward Anderson Berry is born in St. Louis, Missouri.

1947

Chuck Berry is released from the Algoa reformatory after serving three years of a 10-year sentence for armed robbery, stemming from an incident involving a stolen car.

1952

Needing a replacement for an ailing saxophonist for a New Year’s Eve show, pianist/bandleader Johnnie Johnson calls a guitar-playing acquaintance named Chuck Berry.

1955

Having landed a contract with Chess Records, Chuck Berry records “Maybellene” – an uptempo tune based on the country song “Ida Red.”

1955

"Maybellene" is released. It will reach #5 on the pop chart and top the R&B chart for 11 weeks.

1955

“Thirty Days” hits #8 on the R&B chart.

1956

“Roll Over Beethoven” enters the charts, where it will peak at #7 R&B and #29 pop.

1956

The single “Too Much Monkey Business” b/w “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” becomes a double-sided hit, reaching #7 on the R&B chart.

1957

Chuck Berry buys 30 acres of farmland outside Wentzville, Missouri, that he will develop into Berry Park.

1957

“School Day (Ring Ring Goes the Bell)” tops the R&B chart for the first of five weeks and reaches #3 on the pop chart. His first LP, After School Session, is released this month as well.

1957

“The Biggest Show of Stars for '57" a three-month package tour, kicks off at the Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh. Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, the Drifters, Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, the Everly Brothers, Clyde McPhatter and more are on the bill.

1957

“Rock and Roll Music,” by Chuck Berry, enters the pop chart, where it will peak at #8 pop and #6 R&B.

1958

“Sweet Little Sixteen,” Chuck Berry's biggest hit of the rock & roll era, is released. It will reach #2 on Billboard's pop chart and top the R&B chart for three weeks.

1958

Chuck Berry’s second album, One Dozen Berrys, is released.

1958

“Johnny B. Goode,” Chuck Berry’s all-time rock and roll classic, hits #8 pop and #5 R&B.

1959

“Almost Grown,” hits #3 on the R&B chart and #32 on the pop chart.

1961

Chuck Berry’s Berry Land Amusement Park opens outside St. Louis. It will shut down later this year after Berry’s arrest on a morals charge.

1963

"Surfin' U.S.A.," by the Beach Boys, enters the Top 40, where it will peak at #3. Berry later sues and receives a songwriting credit, citing copyright infringement.

1963

Chuck Berry is released from prison on his 37th birthday after serving two years of a three-year sentence. He had been convicted for violating the Mann Act, forbidding transportation of a minor across state lines for purposes of prostitution.

1964

“No Particular Place to Go” enters the charts, where it will peak at #10 pop and #9 R&B. It will be his biggest hit of the Sixties.

1964

Chuck Berry performs at The T.A.M.I. Show, a concert filmed in Santa Monica, California. Also featured are the Rolling Stones, James Brown, the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, the Miracles, Lesley Gore and others.

1965

“Dear Dad” enters Billboard’s Hot 100, where it will peak at #95 pop and #90 R&B. It will be Berry’s last charting single for seven years.

1966

Chuck Berry signs with Mercury Records, ending an 11-year association with the Chess label.

1967

Chuck Berry’s Golden Decade, a compilation of his classic hits for Chess Records, is released.

1967

Chuck Berry’s Live at the Fillmore Auditorium, on which he’s backed by the Steve Miller Band, is released.

1970

Chuck Berry signs for a second time with Chess Records, his original label.

1972

The London Chuck Berry Sessions is released. It became Berry's highest-charting album, reaching #8.

1972

"My Ding-A-Ling” tops the pop chart. It is his first and only Number One pop hit.

1972

The London Chuck Berry Sessions is certified gold (500,000 sold) by the RIAA. The single “My Ding-A-Ling” received a similar certification six weeks earlier.

1973

Let the Good Times Roll, a concert documentary of promoter Richard Nader’s rock and roll revival shows featuring Chuck Berry and others, is released.

1978

American Hot Wax, a film about early rock and roll deejay Alan Freed, is released. Chuck Berry appears in it as himself.

1979

Chuck Berry performs at the White House at the request of President Jimmy Carter. A month later, Berry begins serving a five-month sentence at California’s Lompoc Prison Camp for tax evasion.

1979

Rock It is released on Atco Records. It is the rock and roll pioneer’s last album of new material to date.

1984

Chuck Berry receives a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 27th Annual Grammy Awards. He is cited as "one of the most influential and creative innovators in the history of American popular music."

1986

Chuck Berry is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the first induction dinner. His presenter is Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.

1987

Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, a biographical film and concert documentary about Chuck Berry, opens in theaters.

1987

Chuck Berry: The Autobiography is published by Harmony Books.

1990

Child-abuse charges against Chuck Berry are dropped and he receives two years of probation on a misdemeanor marijuana-possession charge.

1995

Backed by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Berry performs "Johnny B. Goode" and "Rock and Roll Music" at the Concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

2000

Chuck Berry: The Anthology, a 50-track double-disc set, is released on MCA/Chess.

2000

Chuck Berry receives the Kennedy Center Honors at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. His fellow honorees are Mikhail Baryshnikov, Placido Domingo, Angela Lansbury and Clint Eastwood.

Chuck Berry