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STOCKHOLM, May 8 (Reuters) - American rock 'n roll pioneer Chuck Berry has won Sweden's $154,000 Polar music prize - awarded in the past to Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan and violinist Yo-Yo Ma - for defining the parameters of rock music.
The award committee said groups like the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and many others began to learn their craft by playing Berry's songs. "Every riff and solo played by rock guitarists over the last 60 years contains DNA that can be traced right back to Chuck Berry," it said in a statement.
Among Berry's classic guitar-propelled numbers are "Roll Over Beethoven", "Johnny B Goode" and "Maybellene".
Berry, now 87 but still performing, shares the prize with opera- and theater director Peter Sellars, who was honoured for highlighting classical music and presenting it in a new context.
"Peter Sellars shows us that classical music is not about dusty sheet music and metronomic precision," the award committee wrote.
Both recipients get 1 million Swedish crowns ($154,000) and will receive the prize from Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf at an award ceremony in August.
The Polar Prize was founded in 1989 by Stig Anderson, publisher, lyricist and manager of ABBA. ($1 = 6.4942 Swedish Crowns) (Reporting by Johan Ahlander; Editing by Mark Heinrich)