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Chuck Berry Statue Approved In St. Louis, Despite Controversy

June 28, 2011  |  5:17pm
Chuck Berry Statue Approved In St. Louis, Despite Controversy

The legendary Chuck Berry was recognized for his contributions to the music industry when he was among the first artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. As a pioneer of rock ‘n’ roll, Berry’s influence helped to shape the careers of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, among many other musicians. And at age 84, the musician continues to be honored for his legacy—in his own hometown.

Monday in St. Louis, Mo., the University City council approved an eight-foot-tall statue of the musician to be erected on a new public bikeway, near Blueberry Hill. The statue will depict a young Berry playing his guitar, and will be installed in a plaza with illuminated walls engraved with musical notes of his 1957 hit “Johnny B. Goode.” The plaza’s sidewalks will also be engraved with lyrics of Berry’s songs.

Blueberry Hill owner Joe Edwards helped raise over $100,000 from private donors. He told Reuters that the statue will be raised later this week, with a dedication ceremony later in July.

However, the statue faced some opposition from St. Louis residents.

Led by former city council member Elsie Glickert, 86, protesters signed a petition to block or delay the statue. At a council meeting, Glickert argued that the statue should not be placed in the public’s eye because of Berry’s history with the law. In 1962, the musician was convicted for violating the Mann Act when he transported a woman across state lines for “immoral purposes.”

“This man is a felon and not a friend of women,” said Glickert. “It is a misuse of tax dollars to honor him on public property.”

However, proponents of the statue lauded Berry as the city’s “most famous musical native son, who through his music changed race relations and culture around the world.”

The statue’s dedication ceremony will take place July 29, with a special appearance by Berry himself.

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