Chuck Berry’s Guitar
1960, African American Museum
A signature sound so powerful it crossed the race barrier in a segregated era
Chuck Berry in the 1950s linked country-western guitar with rhythm and blues—and helped give rise to rock ’n’ roll. As songwriter, singer, “duckwalking” performer and propulsive guitarist—the twanging “School Day,” the stomping “No Particular Place to Go”—the St. Louis-born Berry appealed, importantly, to both black and white audiences in a segregated time. His 1958 hit “Johnny B. Goode” was so epochal it went into outer space aboard NASA’s Voyager 1 as evidence of what humankind had been up to lately.