Gene Simmons paid a heartfelt tribute to Chuck Berry at the legendary musician's funeral on Sunday (09.04.17).
The 'Roll Over Beethoven' hitmaker - who died of natural causes aged 90 on March 18 - was laid to rest after a day-long celebration of his life in his hometown of St. Louis, which included a public viewing of his body at The Pageant, a music venue where he often played, that saw hundreds of fans file past his coffin, in which his beloved cherry-red guitar was bolted to the inside of the lid, to pay their respects.
The private funeral service then took place in the club, with the Kiss musician's speech coming as a surprise to mourners.
Visibly upset, Gene said: "I hadn't planned on coming saying up here and saying anything. These shades are going to help me a lot, because in the back of them are real tears.
"Without Chuck Berry I wouldn't be here and everything that came, that became this huge thing called rock & roll started with a guy who just wanted to make people feel good and forget about the traffic jams of the world and everything.
"He was breaking down barriers that no one suspected. Chuck, he changed more little white boys' and white girls' lives than all the politicians and their talk.
"Maybe Chuck said it best: 'Roll over Beethoven, tell Tchaikovsky the news.' Buckle your knees, bow your head, the great Chuck Berry is passing by."
Other speakers included Marshall Chess, the son of Leonard Chess, who had founded Chuck's first record label, Chess Records, a number of the rocker's former bandmates, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation president Joel Peresman.
The memorial began when Missouri Congressman Lacy Clay read a letter from former President Bill Clinton.
The note read: "He is one of America's greatest rock 'n' roll pioneers. He captivated audiences around the world. His music spoke to the hopes and dreams we all had in common."
A speaker also read out messages from those unable to attend the service, including Little Richard, who missed the memorial due to illness but sent his "heartfelt condolences" and Sir Paul McCartney, who sent his regrets at having to be unable to take up the "kind invitation" for Chuck's family.
He added: "As you probably know, Chuck was a huge influence on me and my companions. and I will always remain a great fan of his wonderful music."
The Rolling Stones sent a floral tribute in the shape of a guitar, which was accompanied by a card that read: "Thank you for the inspiration. With fondest memories, Keith, Mick, Charlie and Ronnie. The Rolling Stones."