The Father Of Rock-N-Roll: Tribute To Chuck Berry

F. Kenneth Taylor

On Saturday, March 18th, 2017; the music industry lost the ‘Father of Rock-n-Roll,’ some would rightfully argue, and music legend and icon, Chuck Berry. The St. Louis, MO native and music pioneer died at his Wentzville, MO home from natural causes, and currently no autopsy has been planned.  Born, Charles Edward Anderson, on October 26th, 1926, music entered Berry’s life very early as he discovered inspiration from Gospel, Blues, and even Country.

Photographer Unk. Chuck Berry. Mar. 20, 2017

Chuck Berry stepped on stage for the first time at Sumner High School, a well-known landmark among St. Louis natives and residents.  Unfortunately, as a teen, Berry was mischievous and troublesome, and soon found himself spending three years in reform school for his actions. Upon his release in 1947, he settled into normal life, earning degrees in Hairdressing and Cosmotology, before landing employment as a Beautician and auto assembly worker.  In 1948 he married and began a life with Themetta Suggs, the mother of his kids; Ingrid, Aloha, Melody, and Chuck Berry Jr., she survives him today.

It wouldn’t be until the 50s while he was performing with The Johnnie Johnson Trio, that music would take center-stage in Berry’s life.  While in Chicago in 1955, he met Blues Icon, Muddy Waters, who referred him to seek a recording contract with Leonard Chess; Owner of Chess Records, which was featured in the 2008, blockbuster film, Cadillac Records.

“The greatest of the rock and rollers”
~ Robert Christgau

It was with Chess Records that Berry would record some of his first hits such as; “Maybellene,” “School Day,” “Rock and Roll Music,” and “Roll Over Beethoven.”  Chuck Berry, an amazingly gifted guitarist’s, whose skill was unrivaled, and immortalized for his insane riffs, birthed Rock-and-Roll by capturing the teenage audience.  Even in his late 20s and early 30s, Berry connected with the ‘Teenie-boppers’ of the day with upbeat, energetic, ‘off-your-rocker’, classics including; “Johnny B. Goode” and “Sweet Little Sixteen.”

The 1950s made Chuck Berry–Chuck Berry; a rising star, electrifying guitarist, and household name from touring the country and starring in several films.  His rise to fame allowed him to purchase land in St. Louis, as well as open an amusement park, Berry Park, a nightclub, The Club Bandstand, and finally, a restaurant, The Southern Air. Nonetheless, the close of the 50s produced new legal woes which spilled over into the new decade and resulted in a brief prison stint.  Despite several appeals, Berry would be imprisoned from Spring 1960 to October 1963.

Upon his release from prison, Chuck Berry left Chess Records, and signed with Mercury Records.  He was thrilled to learn that British super groups, The Beatles and Rolling Stone were major fans.  During his time with Mercury Records, Berry recorded his first live album, the hits, “Nadine,” “No Particular Place To Go,” and “You Never Can Tell,” as well as four additional albums.  He returned to Chess Records in 1970s, for five years, before moving to Atco Records and recording, “Rock It,” in 1979, which would his final studio album for nearly 40 years.

“If you tried to give Rock and Roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry.”
~ John Lennon

“The Shakespeare of Rock and Roll”
~ Bob Dylan

Chuck Berry performed regularly for several more decades, including a 2008 European tour where he captivated audiences in; The U.K, Netherlands, Ireland, Poland, Spain, and Switzerland.  From the mid-90s to 2014, he performed every Wednesday at St. Louis’ historic, Blueberry Hill.  His first album since 1979, Chuck, was scheduled for a 2017 release.

Photographer Unk. Chuck Berry. Mar 20th, 2017

During his career and life, Chuck Berry received countless accolades and recognition such as; A White House invitation by Jimmy Carter, The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and Time Magazine’s 10 Best Electric Guitarist of All Time. Berry is also featured on several “Greatest Of All Time” lists by Rolling Stone Magazine, in 2002, he was hailed as one of the first, BMI Icons, and named Laureate of The Polar Music Prize in 2014. Chuck Berry was also one of the first musicians inducted into the Rock-And-Roll Hall of Fame during it’s 1986 opening.

Undoubtedly, Chuck Berry was truly special and a rare, unique, precious gift to music, and world. We’ll truly miss you. Rest easy.

“Chuck Berry was rock’s greatest practitioner, guitarist, and the greatest, pure rock and roll writer that ever lived.”
~ Bruce Springsteen




The Blood of Nigeria

F. Kenneth Taylor

Artist Unk. Title Unk. Sept. 23, 2016
Artist Unk. Title Unk. Sept. 23, 2016

Look, let’s bypass the bullshit rhetoric, and get straight to the point.  It’s a tragedy what happened in Paris, it’s a tragedy what’s happening in the Arab-worlds, however, the Middle East and France aren’t the only nations experiencing murderous catastrophes.  Amazingly, the Western World has nestled itself comfortably under a blanket of France’s flag, and has snuggled in for another good-hearted, support campaign.  Social media’s hotter than “Dante’s Inferno” right now, as millions of profile pictures are canvassed with France’s flag.  Sadly, this is propaganda at its finest.

Photographer Unk. Boko Haram. Sept. 23, 2016
Photographer Unk. Boko Haram. Sept. 23, 2016

Despite the overwhelming publicity each receives; Al-Qaeda and ISIS aren’t the only terrorist factions responsible for bloody massacres—does the name Boko Haram sound familiar?  That’s right, the Islamic militants are responsible for waging a war against Nigerian Christians and the 2014 abduction of 200 Nigerian schoolgirls.  In July 2015, Boko Haram slaughtered 200 people in 48 hours, targeting Ramadan worshippers in Mosques and dragging citizens out of their homes to kill them in the streets.  Boko Haram has also utilized suicide bombings and beheadings to launch merciless attacks on Nigerian citizens, as well as Nigeria’s military forces, making it no surprise this faction has aligned itself with ISIS.

Photographer Unk. Title Unk. Sept. 23, 2016
Photographer Unk. Title Unk. Sept. 23, 2016

In mid-December, 2015, the Islamists used machetes to attack Nigeria’s northeastern villages of, Mangari, Warwara, and Bura-Shika.  The raids left approximately 30 dead, 20 severely injured, and the villages burned to the ground as survivors fled to nearby towns.  Only days before the attack on the villages, Boko Haram raided the village of Kamuya, taking the lives of 14, some of whom were beheaded.  Kamuya is also home of the Chief of Army’s mother.  Boko Haram is responsible for more than 1500 deaths in Nigeria between May 2015 and December 2015—that’s only 7 months!  Boko Haram’s murderous grip on Nigeria intensifies by the day, yet the African providence has seen very little-to-no-support from the other nations of the world.  Paris has one tragedy and the globe gently cradles France like a newborn baby, while France itself, in the midst of their own horrific turmoil, has vowed to aid Nigeria, but no one else?

Before Starting A Business: Part II

by F. Kenneth Taylor 

Artist Unk. Title Unk. Jan. 8, 2017
Artist Unk. Title Unk. Jan. 8, 2017

Welcome to the second installment of, “Before Starting A Business.”  Before we continue, and for those who may not have review Part One, let’s do a brief recap. Here’s what we discussed;

  • “Entrepreneurial Drive” – You need more than ‘desire’ to start a business
  • Type of Business – Knowing the best business for YOU to start?
  • Research – Researching EVERYTHING about the type of business you’ll start
  • Demand – Why are more & more people starting their own business?

Building  Your  Staff (1-2 months)

Okay, we concluded Part One with establishing our company’s name. So far, you’ve invested 9 months into starting a business and all you have is a company name. You’ve done the research, you’re learning more each day, you have your company name, and you know you can’t have a one-man or one-woman business, so it’s time to build a staff.  Here are some things to consider when building your staff;

  • You WILL have to pay your staff—before you pay you!
  • Will your staff be classified as regular company employees or contracted personnel?
  • What’s the difference between Company Employees & Contracted Personnel?
  • What are the legal, state & federal regulations for staffing Company Employees?
  • What is a Confidentiality Agreement & why does your staff need to sign one?
  • How will you structure your pay scale? Have you even designed one yet?
  • Who will hold what position?
  • Have you determined your Operating Costs yet?
  • Do you know HOW to determine your Operating Costs? What goes into that?
  • Should you include Payroll in your Operating Costs or is it separate (you need to know)
  • How will you choose your staff? – Do you know qualified, reliable peers? Will you place ads?
  • If you’re unable to immediately begin paying your employees, what will you offer them in the meantime? How will you keep them working for you?

These are all very important things you will have to determine before asking or hiring someone to work for you.  Make sure you have these things addressed and figured out before you begin building your staff.  DON’T approach anyone until you have this figured out!

Photographer Unk. Title Unk. Jan. 8, 2017
Photographer Unk. Title Unk. Jan. 8, 2017

Professional  Consultation

Let’s keep things moving along and presume you’ve taken care of all your preliminary staffing requirements, and you’ve compiled a list of possible employees.  At this point; you have your research results, you’ve determined Operating Costs, you have a pay scale, you’ve developed a Marketing Strategy, you’ve classified your staff as either Employee or Contractor, you have a Confidentiality Agreement ready to go, you know the type of business you’re starting, you have your target audience. . .and you know you’re ready to move forward, but you know how and you still have some skepticism. So what do you do next?

Find a Business Consultant.  You WILL need a PROFESSIONAL Business Consultant—especially if you’ve never started a business before.  This is where all your research will pay off.  In most cases, during the initial meeting with a Business Consultant, they will ask you a series of questions—depending upon your answers, they will know how serious you are, how much work and research you’ve invested into starting your business, and whether or not they will continue to meet and work with you—these are considered “Probing Questions.”

Sometimes, there are fees involved.  Some Business Consultants may charge you a set fee per meeting, while others will charge you nothing because they’re compensated by the agency they’re employed with for their consultation services.  Do your homework when choosing a Business Consultant and be HONEST about things with them—DO  NOT  bullshit your Business Consultant—they will know!


Before you can begin operating as an ‘official business’, before you can ‘legally’ compensate employees, and before you can ‘legally’ perform ANY monetized transactions as a business, you have to first obtain your Business License.  Some of the requirements for obtaining a Business License may vary state-to-state.  Here are a few things to determine prior to applying for a Business License;

  • Will your company be a ‘Corporation’, ‘Franchise’ or ‘LLC’?
  • Do you know what an LLC is?
  • What’s the difference between these 3 classifications? What are the benefits of each?
  • Ask your Business Consultant which is best for you


Photographer Unk. Title Unk. Jan. 8, 2017
Photographer Unk. Title Unk. Jan. 8, 2017


How will you obtain the funds needed to get your business up-and-running?  There are various and effective methods of obtaining funding for your new business—you just need to do the homework once again so you’re aware of all your options and which method works best for you. Some of the most common methods of gaining funding are listed below;

  • Crowdsourcing – Essentially describing your company to the general public asking for donations.
  • Investors – Having private investors fund your start-up costs, etc… This usually involves relinquishing a percentage of company ownership to them.
  • Fundraising – Creating fundraising events to earn your start-up costs
  • 401k/Investment Accounts – You may withdraw from a 401k, IRA, etc… to gain necessary funding
  • Ask your Business Consultant which is best for you – that’s what they’re there for


Now you have all your basics covered, and you’re ready to go into business! Do not be discourage by “snags” and “bumps-in-the-road” along the way—it’s normal.  Expect the unexpected. Stay focused. – Thanks for your support