Chuck Berry, the late father of rock n’ roll, was an “astute” business man who took all of his contracts into his own hands, his lawyer says. As a result, his family will benefit from his massive fortune - at least a $50 million estate.
“He was very clear about his terms and very astute about the negotiations and he was always really good about adhering to the terms of his contracts,” Bob Baldori, an attorney and musician who worked with the music legend for at least 50 years tells PEOPLE.
Baldori says that even after the star’s heyday in the ’50s and ’60s, Berry was raking in $20-$30,000 a night. He says Berry made sure “that money went directly to him.”
With that, and Berry’s “extensive real estate interests,” Baldori says it wouldn’t surprise him if Berry’s remaining estate was worth at least $50 million.
Berry invested hundreds of thousand of dollars into real estate, including his 30-acre Missouri compound, Berry Park, Billboard reports.
“That doesn’t even get into his potential revenue from licensing, publishing etc,” Baldori tells PEOPLE. “[Berry] knew what he was doing.”
Berry died in his Missouri home last week. He was 90. His family announced the death on the musician’s Facebook page, noting that Berry’s health had “deteriorated recently.”
Baldori says Berry has a will in place. Gary Pierson, who worked with the star for the last two years, tells PEOPLE that Berry’s family now controls his estate.
Up until October 2014, Berry performed once a month at Blueberry Hill, a restaurant in St. Louis. Baldori says although Berry had slowed down in the years leading up to his death, he was still touring and making “substantial” amounts of money.
By 2008, Berry was touring at the age of 82. He toured Europe, stopping in Sweden, Norway, Finland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland, Poland and Spain. That year he also played at the Virgin Festival in Baltimore, Maryland.
It was likely Berry’s negative experience with Chess Records in his early years that led to his impressive business acumen. He learned that co-writing credits for his early hit “Maybellene” went to a deejay who worked with the owners of Chess Records. He lamented the situation in his 1987 self-titled autobiography.
“I didn’t understand most of the terms of arrangements of publishing,” Berry wrote. “I didn’t know that a person got compensation for writing as well as recording a song.”
Now, Baldori says thanks to his business-savvy nature and several popular hits, Berry’s estate will likely see more money over the next few years.
“The stature of his catalogue ... I think that estate will continue to generate revenue for a long time,” the lawyer tells PEOPLE.
Berry boasts a line of hit singles, including ”School Days,” ”Sweet Little Sixteen” and ”Johnny B. Goode.”
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On his 90th birthday, Berry announced plans for a new studio album, his first since 1979. The album, titled Chuck, will be released in June. It features his children, Charles Berry Jr. on guitar and Ingrid, who sings and plays harmonica, Pierson says.
Pierson tells PEOPLE that Berry worked on the project for years, noting that the album even features one of the star’s grandchildren.
Although Berry boasts a lucrative career. He has lawsuits, one by a group of women in 1990 that cost him more than $1.2 million.