Chuck Berry to be Awarded 2014 Polar Music Prize
American singer-songwriter, Chuck Berry, and US theatre director, Peter Sellers, will be honoured with The Polar Music Prize, later this summer. The presentation is to take place at a ceremony in Stockholm which will be attended by King Carl XVI of Sweden, where they will each be rewarded with 1 million Swedish krona (approximately £100,000).
The Polar Music Prize, considered by many as the musical equivalent of the Nobel Prize, was originally founded back in 1989 by Stig Anderson, a publisher, lyricist and manager of the band ABBA. When announcing this year’s recipients, the Polar Music committee described Berry’s influence on Rock’n’Roll saying, “every riff and solo played by rock guitarists over the last 60 years contains DNA that can be traced right back to Chuck Berry.” ‘Roll Over Beethoven’, ‘Johnny. B. Goode’, ‘Maybellene’ and ‘You Can Never Tell’ are just a few of the hits Berry has released during his career, along with an impressive twenty studio albums. The artist has also been included in the Rolling Stone ‘Greatest of All Time’ list and the magazine also placed him at the number six position in their ‘100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time’.
The Polar Music Prize is awarded to two recipients each year – one contemporary musician and one classical musician – and this year Peter Sellars is also being honoured. Sellars, known largely for his contemporary interpretations of both classical and modern operas, as well as plays, has been described as, “a living definition of what the Polar Music Prize is all about: highlighting the music and presenting it in a new context.” His impact on controversial theatre and opera production (including staging a series of Mozart’s operas set in contemporary New York locations) gave a new perspective to the way classical music has “fundamentally always been, and will continue to be, a way of reflecting and depicting the world.”
Berry’s style and legendary rock status influenced bands such as The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards has said of the star: "I lifted every lick he ever played - this is the gentleman who started it all." The talented 87 year old still performs to this day with two more dates in his May schedule this year, following a month’s tour around Russia.
Other outstanding performers such as Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Quincy Jones and Björk are just a few names who have previously been awarded with the Polar Music Prize. The aim of the award is to "break down musical boundaries by bringing together people from all the different worlds of music.” It appears that from Classical music to Rock’n’Roll, Polar Music have certainly achieved this contrast, in a harmonious manner.