One of the more famous incidents involving Elvis Costello goes to show how anyone can make mistakes and you can be forgiven, but you will always have to deal with them. The famous incident in question culminated in him calling Ray Charles a "blind, ignorant nigger."
While at a shitty hotel bar in Columbus, Ohio, Elvis got into an argument over the validity of American music with Bonnie Bramlett(of Delaney & Bonnie fame). Guilty of being drunk, and a snarky Brit at the time, Elvis started trying to say things that would get a rise out of Bramlett. He was eventually successful with his nigger comment as she punched him in the face, knocking him from his barstool immediately following his uttering of it.
Obviously, his reputation took a serious hit in America after the incident. Elvis shortly after had a press conference in New York, apologizing and explaining the circumstances of the incident. The apology had little help in recovering his reputation in the states even though his comments were certainly out of place; just a few months before Elvis had a large hand in the forming of England's "Rock Against Racism" tour and continued to be involved in it after.
Ray eventually made public comments forgiving Elvis for the incident.
In later years Costello had the chance to meet Ray several times but passed them up because "any apology after all these years would do little more than embarrass everyone present, all I could do was turn my head away with shame and frustration knowing that this was a hand I will probably never shake ... I have also found that guilt is a burden without any statute of limitations."