Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS via Getty ImagesFans, friends, dignitaries and rock stars paid tribute to the late Chuck Berry at a memorial service at The Pageant theater in St. Louis on Sunday.
A public viewing was held, with Berry’s body lying in repose, his Gibson ES-335 above the casket. The viewing was followed by a private ceremony.
At the service, Congressman William Clay Lacy read a letter from former President Bill Clinton, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In the letter Clinton called Berry “one of America’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll pioneers,” adding, “He captivated audiences around the world. His music spoke to the hopes and dreams we all had in common. Me and Hillary grew up listening to him.”
Paul McCartney also sent a message thanking the late Rock & Roll Hall of Famer for his contributions. KISS‘ Gene Simmons, in attendance but not scheduled to speak, was prevailed upon to say a few words. Simmons remembered hearing Berry on the radio in 1958. “I couldn’t dance, but I moved like I was a Baptist in church,” he recalled. “I wouldn’t be here today without Chuck Berry,” he added. The Rolling Stones sent a guitar-shaped floral arrangement.
Marshall Chess, son of Chess Records co-founder Leonard Chess, told those gathered, “Make no doubt about it. He was not only the father of rock ‘n’ roll, but he changed the world.”
Joel Peresman, president of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation said, “From the first brick, everything that was built was based on Chuck Berry.”
Berry died on March 18 at his home in St. Charles County, Illinois, at the age of 90. As previously reported, a posthumous studio album called Chuck is scheduled to be released June 16.
Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.