Elvis Costello regrets not being able to apologise to Ray Charles for calling him a "blind ignorant n*gger" before the soul man died in June (04).

The British rocker hit the headlines in America for his drunken racist comment, made during an argument in an Ohio bar 20 years ago, and called a press conference to apologise.

But Costello, real name, DECLAN McMANUS never had an opportunity to say sorry to Charles' face.

He says, "I had a heartbreaking moment last year. I was at an Elton John tribute concert in Anaheim, California. DIANA (KRALL, Costello's wife) did BORDER SONG and killed them. Ray came out and did SORRY SEEMS TO BE THE HARDEST WORD. It was f**king unbelievable.

"As Ray's coming out, a woman is leading him. He gets to within 15 feet of us, and they stop. The woman says, 'He wants to meet Diana.' I had to turn away. That wasn't the right moment.

"I have to live with it, with every Afro-American musician I meet... It happened. But if people don't hear the respect by now, they've got their ears the wrong way round."

29/09/2004 02:41