Doncaster friend of Jimmy Savile tried to ban Chuck Berry from Dome date over "sex offences"

A Doncaster man who was a friend of Jimmy Savile tried to ban rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry from playing a concert in the town over his past criminal convictions.

Monday, 20th March 2017, 8:20 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:56 am
Doncaster community campaigner Ray Nortrop and late rock 'n' roll star Chuck Berry.

Community campaigner Ray Nortrop launched a protest against the American guitar star, who died at the age of 90 at the weekend, from playing at The Dome in 2008, likening the Johnny B Goode singer to child sex pervert singer Gary Glitter.

Mr Nortrop, who killed himself in 2012 after child sex revelations about his friend Jimmy Savile were made public, had launched a petition to ban Berry from playing Doncaster over the singer's 1961 conviction for transporting a 14-year-old girl over the border for "immoral purposes."

Mr Nortrop, a former nightclub DJ, raised the matter before a Doncaster Council meeting and questioned then mayor Martin Winter on why the Dome was promoting the concert, which was due to be held on November 23, 2008.

In an interview at the time he said Berry's colourful past also included a prison sentence for armed robbery and he added: "How many people in Doncaster would attend The Dome if Gary Glitter was advertised to appear here?

"What about the Licensing Committee and the management of The Dome - what thoughts have they?

"Should Chuck Berry be viewed any differently to Gary Glitter who was at The Dome in the 1990s?"

Management at The Dome said at the time they were aware of Berry's past but regarded it as a 'spent' conviction.

In 2008, Gavin Baldwin, then chief executive of The Dome, said: "Chuck Berry has performed across the UK for many years and has previously appeared at the Dome in 1993 to a sell-out crowd.

"This is a spent conviction."

In December 1959, Berry was arrested after allegations that he had sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old waitress, Janice Escalante, whom he had transported across state lines to work as a hatcheck girl at his club.

After a two-week trial in March 1960, he was convicted, fined $5,000, and sentenced to five years in prison.

He appealed the decision, arguing that the judge's comments and attitude were racist and prejudiced the jury against him.

The appeal was upheld and a second trial was heard in May and June 1961, resulting in another conviction and a three-year prison sentence.

Meanwhile, Mr Nortrop, 68, was found dead at his flat before Christmas 2012 after taking an overdose following the slew of child sex revelations about his friend, Jimmy Savile.

A Doncaster inquest heard police were not investigating Mr Nortrop as part of the Jimmy Savile child sex abuse inquiry but a national newspaper made enquiries about him after his death.

Pc Christopher Akers told the inquest he was aware a national newspaper had been making enquiries about Mr Nortrop after he died, into ‘criminal matters of a very serious nature going back a number of years, which the press has reported’.

Pc Akers said: “There was nothing to substantiate that in the flat or to implicate any criminality.”

After Savile’s death, Mr Nortrop recalled his time working as a disc jockey and appearing with the broadcaster in the 1960s. He also attended his funeral in Leeds and burial in Scarborough.

He also revealed how the pair had attended wrestling matches together at Balby's now demolished Windsor Cinema and had helped him land his first job at the decks of the Top Rank Suite in Silver Street.

The pair also helped organise an open air pop festival in Lincoln in 1966 featuring the likes of The Who, The Yardbirds, The Small Faces and The Kinks.

In the end, it was Berry himself who pulled the plug on The Dome date, cancelling due to "unforeseen circumstances."