Rock n' roll was more than a new kind of music, but a new story to tell, one for kids with transistor radios in their hands and money in their pockets, beginning to raise questions their parents never had the luxury to ask.
Along with James Dean and J.D. Salinger and a handful of others in the 1950s, Chuck Berry, who was 90 when he died Saturday at his suburban St. Louis home, helped define the modern teenager. While Elvis Presley gave rock n' roll its libidinous, hip-shaking image, Berry was the auteur, setting the narrative for a generation no longer weighed down by hardship or war. Well before the rise of Bob Dylan, Berry wedded social commentary to the beat and rush of popular music.