Chuck Berry Always Stayed True to St. Louis

Magazine editor recalls surprise 2012 party appearance

St. Louis magazine culture editor Stefene Russell penned a nice piece about hometown hero Chuck Berry, in the wake of the rock ‘n’ roll legend’s death over the weekend at age 90. Highlighted by this memory:

When we put him on the cover of our “100 Greatest Musicians” issue, in April 2012, we threw the party at Blueberry Hill. Berry made a surprise appearance, playing with St. Louis blues prodigy Marquise Knox, chatting with folks and signing magazines.

It was also no contest when the magazine polled readers to vote for the best St. Louis musicians of all time. A majority hailed, hailed Berry.

Russell speculates that Berry’s death may finally speed the long-overdue restoration of the musician’s childhood home. When the publication highlighted that situation last summer, art historian Chris Naffziger suggested a lack of reciprocity:

So of course, this being St. Louis, the [Berry] house sits abandoned, poorly secured and in danger of eventual destruction. Since just 2008, when preservationist Lindsey Derrington wrote the National Register nomination for the house, the southern neighbor has been demolished. …

While the St. Louis Visitors’ Bureau does a fine job of showcasing Chuck Berry in its promotional literature and website, and certainly Joe Edwards has done a yeoman’s job of keeping the aging master relevant, I can’t help but feel that the city doesn’t appreciate the rock ‘n’ roll star as much as it should, or anywhere near what other communities do for their own native sons. Is it really for the most obvious reason? Or is it that St. Louis continues to do such a miserable job of understanding its role in world history?