Charles Anderson Edward Berry, better known as Chuck Berry, is popularly considered the father of Rock ‘n’ Roll. He was born on October 18, 1926 in St. Louis, Missouri to Martha and Henry Berry, who were grandchildren of slaves. His ancestors had migrated from the rural south to Missouri to look for work during World War I. His parents were positive influences on Berry’s life; his mother was one of the very few African American women who had gained a college education and his father was an honest, hard working carpenter and an ordained minister of the Antioch Baptist Church. Berry grew up in an entirely segregated black community and hadn’t even encountered a white person until the age of three, when he saw white firemen putting out a fire. He later recalled his surprise at seeing them, thinking their skin had changed color due to fear.
Berry was a talented and energetic child, and was interested in music from childhood. He first began singing at his local church choir and later attended a prestigious private school called Sumner High School. There he performed in a school show where he sang a popular song accompanied by a friend on the guitar. The song was a huge hit with the student body and Berry then seriously began considering a career in music. He took guitar lessons from Ira Harris, who was a famous local jazz musician. However, he showed no inclination to study hard and his grades and performance at school began to suffer. At 17, he decided to quit high school and went on a road trip to California with two friends. During the trip, the three friends found a loaded gun in an abandoned parking lot and used it to rob three stores. They were found and arrested by the police and sentenced to 10 years in jail.
Berry served three years of jail time in Missouri and was then released due to his good behavior. He was released on his 21st birthday and went back to his family’s home to join his father’s business. He worked several jobs, including his father’s construction business, photography and janitor. A year