The man considered "The Father of Rock and Roll" now has a permanent tribute to him in University City.
An 8 foot bronze statue of Chuck Berry was installed in the Loop early Friday morning in a plaza across the street from , where Berry still performs once a month.
"I'm going to brag. They got a statue of my dad in U City," an excited Charles Berry Jr. told University City Patch after the installation. "My dad, he's the coolest dude on the planet to me."
Berry Jr. said he was overwhelmed by the beauty of the plaza and the statue.
"It's a great tribute to my father," said Berry Jr. "It's absolutely gorgeous. It exceeded my expectations."
The statue depicts a young Berry, wearing a tuxedo, guitar in hand.
"That's the way Chuck wanted it...lots of hair and a good dress," said sculptor Harry Weber, who oversaw Friday's installation of his sculpture. "I can't say my own work looks fantastic but I'm glad to see the final version of it," Weber said.
"It looks fantastic," said Joe Edwards, owner of Blueberry Hill and other Loop establishments,who helped spearheard the statue project. "You can almost feel Chuck moving even though that's a solid bronze statue."
Berry's son said University City is renowned for being an entertainment and fun mecca and the statue is yet another reason for people to come to the Loop. He said the statue adds a tremendous amount to his father's legacy.
"This is going to be a big deal," said Berry Jr.
An excited Earl Higgins of University City was on hand for the statue's installation.
"This is a wonderful day and I think the area will be changed for the positive forever because of this," said Higgins. "I think it (statue) will attract people from all over the world."
University City Raymond Moore said he's a huge fan of Berry's and woke up early to see the statue placed in the plaza.
I" think it's a great tribute to him and it's good for University City as a whole."
The statue wasn't without some obstacles. Winter weather delayed its installation for months. And more recently, opposing the statue garnered 100 signatures.
Longtime resident and former University City Councilmember Elsie Glickert argued that the statue should not be placed on city owned property. Also, she said Berry's criminal record made him an inappropriate person to honor.
In Berry's defense, Edward noted that in 2000, Berry received a Kennedy Center Honor, considered by most to be the highest honor an artist can receive in America.
Berry has done stints in prison for robbery and prostitution violations. And in the 1980s, he settled a civil suit brought by women who accused him of videotaping them in the bathroom of his Wentzville restaurant.
"Let's accentuate the positive and separate the man's personal life from his artistic life," said Edwards. "That's what we're here to honor, not anything else."
The official dedication of the statue is slated for July 29 at 10:00am. Chuck Berry and his family will attend the ceremony.