And Chuck Berry is still not gone. He's made it to 90, today. Happy Birthday!
Here's Peter Guralnick at Rolling Stone: "Why Chuck Berry Is Even Greater Than You Think/Revelatory encounters with a rock & roll pioneer." Excerpt:
When he was recognized in 2012 by PEN New England (a division of the international writers' organization) for its first "Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence" award, his co-honoree, Leonard Cohen, graciously declared that "all of us are footnotes to the words of Chuck Berry," while Bob Dylan called him "the Shakespeare of rock & roll."...
He is, like many of us, his own best advocate and his own worst enemy, but the particular problem for Chuck is that, for all of the accolades that have come his way... to this day he has not been unambiguously embraced in the full artistic terms he deserves. There are undoubtedly a multiplicity of reasons for this (race would certainly have to be factored in), but the principal reason that Chuck has not been lifted up on a wave of critical and biographical hosannas is Chuck himself. His unwillingness to ingratiate himself. His unreadable apartness. The deep-seated sense of anger and suspicion that can unexpectedly flare up and turn into overt hostility, with or without provocation.... Most of all, I would guess, it comes down to his determined, uncompromisingly defiant refusal to conform to anyone else's expectations but his own.