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

Simmons had not been scheduled to speak but took to the podium at the service in Berry's hometown of St Louis to credit him with breaking down racial barriers through his music.

The Kiss frontman spoke about Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement in America, saying that although Berry did not speak about the issues publicly, his music had an indelible effect on people.

"Although I never heard Chuck talk about it in his lyrics, or in interviews, or on TV, he was breaking down barriers that nobody expected", Simmons said to applause.

Meanwhile, former US President Bill Clinton sent a letter lauding "one of America's greatest rock and roll pioneers".

"He captivated audiences around the world," the letter said, "and his music spoke to the hopes and dreams we all had in common. Me and Hillary grew up listening to him."

The Pageant club in St Louis, where Berry had often performed, hosted a public viewing on Sunday where fans were able to pay their respects to the music legend at his open coffin before a private funeral.

As fans filed past the casket, a musician played some of Berry's best known hits such as Johnny B Goode, Sweet Little Sixteen and Roll Over Beethoven.

Berry, dubbed the 'Father of Rock 'n' Roll' died on March 19 aged 90.