Best to Decline Chuck Berry’s Offer to Use His Restroom

I was alerted by a relative who observed my online fawning over Chuck Berry that Chuck is not exactly a squeaky-clean character.  He has in fact had several brushes with the law (although I did mention his felony record in an earlier post).

So I will just offer up in my defense that I believe you can admire and appreciate a person’s accomplishments without condoning every action of their life.  Or to pull an example from recent headlines, one can admire Michael Vick’s football prowess without thinking he would be a good person to pet-sit your dog.

Often extreme people have some extreme flaws.  A quick survey of most historical figures should quickly demonstrate this point.  Heck, a review of most current actors under 25 today reveal nearly as many brushes with the law each as Chuck (think Paris and LiLo) – and they haven’t been around in show-business even 1/5 as long. 

Not to further dump on poor Chuck, but because I had such a difficult time finding any information about this period in his life.  I felt there might be some value in aggregating some information on Mr. Berry and this legal scrape. 

His most recent legal troubles-and those with the greatest potential to damage his reputation(although this time they resulted in no prison time)-occurred in 1990.  Yet, oddly, it is somewhat difficult to even find any reference to this episode.  Here are some of the few sites that even mention the controversy. 

Wikipedia’s coverage of Berry’s scandals
Archives of Chuch Berry news stories from 1990 
A reference to the Spy Magazine exposé on Chuck’s tapes 
A discussion of early Invasion of Privacy Cases 
It seems that an odd assortment of record company executives, complacent media, and people who quite frankly don’t even want to think about such things were somehow nearly able to remove all references to the existence of this story as completely as the Ministry of Truth did when it “rectified” information in the novel 1984.

Apparently the synopsis of the story is this:  

While the FBI and local authorities conducted a dubious raid on a non-existant “major cocaine shipment” in Chuck’s home in 1990, they found video tapes containing the images of 70 women who had been secretly taped using the restrooms in his home and restaurant.  Chuck denied knowing where the tapes came from but plead guity to a minor charge and reached a $1.2M settlement with the women. 

OK, fair enough, Chuck quite obviously was not a very good adherent of privacy rights (and a penalty was extracted for this), but he was an outstanding musician nonetheless.  No thanks Chuck, I’ll just wait and use the restroom when I get home.


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