Chuck Berry got a rock and roll send-off on Sunday. The rock and roll pioneer's guitar was mounted on the lid of his casket during a public viewing at the Pageant Theater in St. Louis.
After the public viewing, a private service began with Reverend Alex I. Peterson telling those on hand, "We are going to celebrate [Chuck] in a rock and roll style. We’re not going to sit here and be sad."
Famous names from the music world were on hand to remember the man who famously proclaimed, "Roll Over Beethoven!"
- Gene Simmons of KISS wore his signature sunglasses and said, "These shades are going to help me a lot. But there are real tears behind them.“ Recalling when his family emigrated to the U.S. from Israel, he added, "I couldn’t dance. But I moved like I was a Baptist in church [to Chuck's music]." He also credited Berry for "breaking down barriers" in American society.
- Paul Shaffer said that Berry was “right there with the folks who invented rock and roll. Anyone who plays rock and roll was inspired by him.”
- Johnny Rivers sang the Carl Perkins song “Blue Suede Shoes,” two of Berry’s grandchildren sang “Summertime,” and several of Chuck’s band members performed “Johnny B. Goode” -- with Billy Peek duck-walking across the stage.
- Though none of The Rolling Stones attended, the band sent a floral display in the shape of a guitar that was placed next to Chuck's casket.
- And Paul McCartney apologized for being unable to join the mourners, but sent a message that was read aloud, thanking him for his contributions to music.
Chuck Berry died March 18th at age 90. (St. Louis Post Dispatch)