ST. LOUIS (CBSNEwYork/AP) — Fans lined up before dawn on Sunday to pay their final respects to music legend Chuck Berry, roughly three weeks after his death at age 90 near his hometown of St. Louis.
PHOTOS: Remembering Chuck Berry
The Pageant, a club where Berry often performed, opened its doors Sunday morning for a four-hour public viewing, which will be followed by a private service and celebration for the musician’s family and friends.
St. Charles County, Missouri police said they were called after Berry was unresponsive by his caretaker in his home on March 18. First responders administered life-saving techniques, but Berry could not be revived and was pronounced dead at 1:26 p.m. local time, police said.
As fans filed past Berry’s open casket, which has his beloved cherry-red Gibson ES-335 electric guitar bolted to the inside of its lid, a musician outside played Berry standards such as “Johnny B. Goode,” ”Sweet Little Sixteen” and “Roll Over Beethoven.”
Among the flower arrangements in the hall was one in the shape of a guitar sent by The Rolling Stones, one of the many bands profoundly influenced by the St. Louis rock ‘n’ roller.
In addition to his own impressive catalog of hits, musicians from Bob Dylan to John Lennon have called out Berry’s influence on their music. In 2016, Keith Richards told CBS’ “Sunday Morning” that he and Mick Jagger bonded in their school days over a love of Berry.
When Richards spoke about Berry at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 1986 induction ceremony — Berry was the first person inducted from that inaugural class — he said Berry was the one who started it all.
His songs have been covered by country, pop and rock artists such as AC/DC and Buck Owens, and his riffs live on in countless songs. The head of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Greg Harris, said “anybody who’s picked up a guitar has been influenced by him.”
Well before the rise of Bob Dylan, Berry wedded social commentary to the beat and rush of popular music.
“He was singing good lyrics, and intelligent lyrics, in the ’50s when people were singing, “Oh, baby, I love you so,'” John Lennon once observed.
“Everything I wrote about wasn’t about me, but about the people listening,” Berry once said.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)