Guitarist and singer Chuck Berry was one of the founding fathers of rock and roll. His output from 1955 to 1965 included some of the earliest classics in rock history, from "Maybellene" and "Rock 'n' Roll Music" to "Sweet Little Sixteen" and "Johnny B. Goode." Chuck Berry began playing professionally in St. Louis in the early 1950s. His 1955 hit "Maybellene" made him a national star, and he followed with a string of hit records that appealed to both black and white audiences. His career was briefly derailed in the early 1960s, when he was convicted of having sex with an underage girl and was sentenced to three years in prison; he served 20 months, from February 1962 to October 1963. Berry bounced back with new recordings and performances, but his best years seemed behind him. Ironically, Berry's biggest hit came in 1972, a live recording of the innuendo-heavy novelty song, "My Ding-a-Ling." In addition to his status as a rock legend, Berry earned a reputation for unpredictable performances, erratic behavior and legal troubles (he was sentenced to more jail time in 1979 for tax evasion). Like his contemporary Little Richard
, Berry was an African-American whose influence on rock 'n' roll was later overshadowed by the popularity of white artists such as The Beatles
and the The Rolling Stones
. Nonetheless, he remained recognized as one of the founders of rock 'n' roll music until his death at age 90 in 2017.