Friends, family bid farewell to rock legend Chuck Berry

Family and friends gather at the Pageant Theater in St Louis to bid farewell to Rock and Roll legend Chuck Berry.

MISSOURI, UNITED STATES (REUTERS) - They filled the seats of the Pageant Theatre in St Louis to hear songs and salutes of prayer and praise, including a tribute from former President Bill Clinton, relayed by Congressman Lacy Clay. 

"Chuck captivated audience around the world with his unrivalled energy, rhythm, sound, and yes, his signature duck walk. But also in the unique way his music captured the essence of America," said Clay. 

Berry was a rock 'n' roll pioneer, lauded as one of the most influential guitarists and lyricists. 

His hits included Johnny B. Goode, Roll Over Beethoven, and Maybellene, among others. 

The day brought tears to many in the room, including Gene Simmons of Kiss.

"These shades are going to help me a lot because... in back of them are real tears," said Simmons.

He credited Berry with not only changing his life but the lives of many, especially young white audiences. 

"He was breaking down barriers that nobody suspected. Chuck, he changed more little white boys and white girls' lives than all the politicians with their big talk and stuff, just by making them move like this. Just by grabbing a hold of them on the outside, and on the inside, and you know, just changing their lives," said Simmons. 

Berry died in March at the age of 90.