KISS' Gene Simmons pays tearful tribute to Chuck Berry at his funeral

Kiss star Gene Simmons paid an emotional tribute to rock n' roll legend Chuck Berry at his funeral service in Missouri at the weekend.

Hundreds of fans also queued for a chance to receive one of 300 tickets to join Berry's friends, family and fellow musicians at the private ceremony later that afternoon at the same venue.

Berry - known as the Father of Rock "n" Roll, died on March 18 aged 90.

Fans lined up before dawn on Sunday to pay their final respects to music legend Chuck Berry, roughly three weeks after his death at age 90 near his hometown of St. Louis. She says Berry's music will live on forever.

"He captivated audiences around the world", Bill Clinton wrote.

"His music spoke to the hopes and dreams we all had in common".

Fans filed passed Berry's open casket, which held his cherry-red Gibson ES-335 electric on inside of its lid. Simmons discussed how Berry had "broken down barriers" for his many white fans, in a country that had "still not overcome its racist past".

His worldwide fame earned him a lifetime achievement Grammy in 1984, and he was among the first people inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

After Chuck Berry's funeral was attended by thousands of fans at the Pageant hall, a few celebrities personally came to see his remains which included Gene Simmons of Kiss, who was persuaded by organizers to give a speech.

Well before the rise of Bob Dylan, Berry wedded social commentary to the beat and rush of popular music.

The frontman admitted that he had never had the opportunity to meet Berry in life, but felt he could not let the day go by without 'coming here and honouring him, ' before going on to add that, without Berry, 'I wouldn't be here'.

Berry influenced scores of musicians, with John Lennon once observing: "He was singing good lyrics, and intelligent lyrics, in the '50s when people were singing 'Oh, baby, I love you so'".

Video journalist George Wise in St. Louis and Associated Press writer Jim Suhr in Kansas City, Mo., contributed to this report.

  • Salvatore Jensen