In 1955, Berry got his break in music when he travelled to Chess Records in Chicago to meet Leonard Chess. “He told me to bring four numbers,” Berry told CBS News’ Charles Osgood in 1972. “And as a matter of fact, I brought six. And ‘Maybellene’ was one.”
A Number 1 R&B hit, “Maybellene” changed his life. He went from making $94 a week at an assembly plant to playing 40 weeks a year. “At $50 a night! And the Lord had answered my blessings.”
In the late ‘50s he laid down one classic after another, many built on the obsessions of his youthful audience: cars, dates, school, and rock music.
“Everybody drives cars. Everybody has to have money. Everybody has a love affair, inspiration. And these are the things I write about,” he said.