Chuck Berry Statue
2:32 pm
Fri July 29, 2011

Statue honoring Chuck Berry dedicated in the Loop

You can see more photos of the dedication in the gallery below

A nearly two-year effort to raise money for a statue of St. Louis native Chuck Berry in the city came officially to a close today Friday as dignitaries gathered with the man they call the father of rock 'n' roll to dedicate the sculpture.

The eight-foot tall figure shows a younger Berry jamming away at his guitar. It sits right across from Blueberry Hill in the Loop, where the 84-year-old still performs once a month.

Harry Weber, another native, designed the sculpture. He called the project a great challenge and privilege.

"Chuck is a part of history that goes beyond music," Weber said. "He created a new means of expression through rock 'n' roll that inspired generations of young people to find their voice. He has shown us all what it means to have a calling, always find joy in what he does, and sharing that joy with everyone who hears his music."

Private donations covered the $100,000 cost.

The singer of hits like "Maybellene" and "Roll Over Beethoven" seemed overwhelmed by the crowd that gathered to witness the dedication.

"I don't know how to speak," Berry said. "I can sing a little, but … I'm going to say thank you again, thank you, and I love you all!"

But he found the energy to join a local arts group in singing his biggest hit, Johnny Be Goode.

The statue generated some controversy. Berry is a convicted felon, and University City residents protested the fact that it's on city property, making the city responsible for lighting and maintenance.