The living legend [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Chuck Berry[/lastfm] will have a statue installed in his honor this week in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri.
The statue depicts a young Chuck Berry wailing away on a guitar. The walls near the statue will be laser-engraved with musical notes from “Johnny B. Goode,” and the sidewalk will be etched with lyrics. Reuters reports that Berry himself will attend a ceremony to dedicate the statue on a July 29, 2011.
The owner of the Blueberry Hill Club, Joe Edwards, raised over $100,000 in private funds to install the statue along a bike path on city property but not everyone in the community has a positive opinion of the project. A small group of opponents had collected over 100 signatures hoping to block the statue.
Reuters reports Elsie Glickert, an 86-year-old former city council member, said “This man is a felon and not a friend of women. It is a misuse of tax dollars to honor him on public property.”
According to Reuters Glickert opposes the statue because of Berry’s legal issues.
Berry was conviction of violating the Mann Act in 1962, accused of transporting a woman across state lines for immoral purposes. In 1979 Berry was convicted of tax evasion. He was also convicted of armed robbery as a teenager. According to Wikipedia, in 1990, Berry was sued by several employees who claimed that he had videotaped women in the bathroom. Tapes were found and one of the women was a minor thus child-abuse charges were filed. In order to avoid the child-abuse charges, Berry agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor possession of marijuana.
Edwards came to Berry’s defense saying Chuck Berry is the “most famous musical native son, who through his music changed race relations and culture around the world.”
Despite a minority voice of opposition the city council green lighted the project.