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Recap From Chuck Berry’s Memorial Service

Chuck Berry was laid to rest on Sunday (April 9) with friends and family paying tribute both in a public memorial and a private service.

Fans trooped through The Pageant theater in St. Louis, Berry's home town, where Berry's open casket had his trademark red Gibson ES 335 guitar bolted inside the lid and sat by a guitar-shaped flower arrangement. A musician outside played Berry songs as fans stood in line.

Berry was eulogized by Marshall Chess, son of Leonard Chess, who released Berry's most famous hits on Chess Records, as well as KISS’ Gene Simmons and St. Louis Mayor-elect Lyda Krewson. Letters were read from Paul McCartney and former President Bill Clinton, the latter calling Berry "one of America's greatest rock 'n' roll pioneers. He captivated audiences around the world. His music spoke to the hopes and dreams we all had in common."

Little Richard, who was slated to perform, was unable to attend, but Frances Johnson, the widow of longtime Berry pianist Johnnie Johnson, was at the service along with Paul Shaffer.

Berry died on March 18 at from natural causes. His final album, "CHUCK," is due for released on June 16 and has been preceded by the first single, "Big Boys."

 

Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.