Rock n’ roll may be mainstream as you get these days, with rock stars receiving knighthoods and hobnobbing with heads of state [we’re looking at you Bono] but there’s one last vestige of respectability that they don’t appear to have fully cracked. That is, having a public statue of them erected. Politicians, Mayors, Judges are a dime a dozen when it comes to having a statue of their likeness cast in bronze or marble erected out the front of an important building or in a quiet park, but you don’t see many statues of rock stars. Indeed, the only ones that come to mind are one of Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott in a Dublin side street, a street renamed Joey Ramone Place in New York City’s Bowery, and perhaps Australia’s own AC/DC Lane in central Melbourne.
However, that’s about to change in St Louis, Missouri; where the city officials have given approval for an eight foot public statue of rock n’ roll pioneer Chuck Berry in his home town. They quashed a short lived protest against the erection of the statue, which will see it placed in a public area that leads to restaurants, shops and Blueberry Hill – a legendary nightclub where Berry still is still known to strap on a guitar a duckwalk.
The people protesting the statue were up in arms against a civic honour being given to 84 year old Berry who has a wrap sheet for robbery as a teenager and a wee bit of tax evasion in 1979. Most of all, they’re not too keen on him receiving the honour for his 1962 conviction for violating the Mann Act.
The infamous use of the law against Berry, which forbids “transporting a woman across state lines for immoral behavior,” had existed to protect women from indentured slavery and prostitution. In Berry’s case officials used it to prosecute him after the serial skirt chaser was alleged to have had sex with an underage Native American girl het met after a show in Texas in 1959 and later brought to work in his St Louis nightclub. After she was fired and later arrested on prostitution charges, police used the Mann Act to prosecute Berry.