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How 10 Guitar Gods Got Started

Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix and more all had humble beginnings
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Chuck Berry

Berry was married with a kid and held a succession of joe jobs before his gigs playing the blues in local St. Louis bands turned into anything more than a hobby. Credit pianist Johnnie Johnson for the push: Berry started playing with Johnson's trio in 1953 after the group's regular guitarist fell ill. Thanks to Berry's knack for showmanship and his fast-improving guitar skills, the sideman soon became the bandleader, and signed to Chess Records in 1955. That's Johnson playing piano on Berry's first single, "Maybellene," which topped the R&B chart the same year.

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