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Chuck Berry: how rock 'n' roll history forgot its founding father 

Chuck Berry in 2011
Chuck Berry in 2011 Credit: Chuck Berry in 2011

To hear Chuck Berry had died was a reminder that he once lived, making music that everyone in the world heard, shaping the very sound of the times we live through. But Berry was no longer very present in pop culture. He was a vanished man, a ghostly relic of former times. You didn’t see his lean, wolfishly grinning face on the front of retro music magazines and vintage T-shirts like so many of the rock stars who followed him, perpetually preserved at their youthful peak.

Somehow, rock’s founding father avoided being transformed into an everlasting icon of rock’s self-mythologising glory. Maybe the passage of so many decades made him too distant a figure, like an old movie star who has lingered so long in retirement all their classic films have been remade with new actors and CGI technology.

Berry stopped having hits by the mid-Sixties (apart from one last novelty smash with My Ding A Ling...

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