A public viewing was held at The Pageant, a St. Louis club where Berry performed, with fans beginning to line up before dawn, according to the Associated Press. The private Celebration of Life service is set to follow at 1 p.m. for the musician’s family and friends, with the procession to the cemetery set for around 3:15 p.m. Sunday afternoon, according to Fox 2 News.
Berry’s open casket had a red Gibson electric guitar bolted to the inside of its lid, and a musician outside played some of Berry’s hits, including “Sweet Little Sixteen.” The Rolling Stones also reportedly sent a flower arrangement in the shape of a guitar. The band had reacted on the evening of his death with a joint statement, citing his massive influence on their own music.
“The Rolling Stones are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Chuck Berry. He was a true pioneer of rock ‘n’ roll and a massive influence on us,” the band wrote. “Chuck was not only a brilliant guitarist, singer, and performer, but most importantly, he was a master craftsman as a songwriter. His songs will live forever.”
In a tweet, Keith Richards added, “One of my big lights has gone out.”
Berry produced a litany of hit singles such as “Maybellene,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” “Johnny B. Goode,” “School Days,” “Nadine” and “Rock and Roll Music.” Berry is credited with reshaping rhythm and blues into what we now recognize as rock and roll. His lyrics explored teen life and American commercialism, and his music fused exciting guitar solos with flare and showmanship.
On the evening of his death, his family posted on Berry’s official Facebook page.
“We are deeply saddened to announce that Chuck Berry – beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather – passed away at his home today at the age of 90. Though his health had deteriorated recently, he spent his last days at home surrounded by the love of his family and friends,” they wrote. “The Berry family asks that you respect their privacy during this difficult time.”