Chuck Berry’s death came just weeks before the debut single off his first new studio album in nearly four decades was scheduled to go on sale, a friend of the rock ‘n’ roll legend said.
Joe Edwards, the owner of the Blueberry Hill club in St. Louis where Berry performed regularly, said the tracks he has heard off the upcoming album, titled “CHUCK,” are “sensational.”
“What a genius,” Edwards said Saturday. “I just miss him like crazy. I miss his laugh.”
While studios often release tribute albums of classics or unused material after an artist dies, Berry’s upcoming album featuring mostly original songs was announced in October. His last new studio album, “Rock It,” was released in 1979.
The 90-year-old Berry died Saturday at his home near St. Louis. Berry’s classic songs “Johnny B. Goode” and “Roll Over Beethoven” echoed throughout The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on Sunday as it paid tribute to the musician.
“Anybody who’s picked up a guitar has been influenced by him,” said rock hall CEO Greg Harris, who remembers playing the opening riff of “Johnny B. Goode” over and over again as budding teen guitarist.
In addition to Berry’s notes, Harris said his lyrics spoke about teenage life and social issues in the 1950s.
“It’s why when we think of the greats and the forefathers, his name is right there,” Harris said.
Berry drew praise all corners after his death including a tweet from former President Barack Obama.
“Chuck Berry rolled over everyone who came before him – and turned up everyone who came after. We’ll miss you, Chuck. Be good,” Obama wrote.
Berry was the first artist in the inaugural 1986 class to go into the rock hall, and he closed out its concert in 1995 to celebrate the building’s opening in Cleveland. The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards said at Berry’s induction ceremony that Berry was the one who started it all.
Funeral arrangements hadn’t been announced Sunday. One of Berry’s representatives, Matt Hanks, said he didn’t have any new information about the release plans for the “Chuck” album.
Associated Press writers Greg McCune in Chicago and John Seewer in Toledo, Ohio, contributed to this report.