Charlie Gracie

Charlie Gracie

Encouraged to play guitar by his father, Charlie made his first TV appearance on the Paul Whiteman Show at the age of sixteen and won regional talent shows.

After graduating in 1952 he was signed to Cadillac Records and released his first single, Boogie Woogie Blues which led to his first appearance on American Bandstand. He cut two more singles for the label before moving to 20th Century Records and releasing four further sides with a mixture of styles, including jump. Gospel, blues and boogie. Late in 1956 the new Cameo label in Philadelphia signed him, his first single for them, Butterfly, getting to No.1 in jukebox plays in the Billboard chart. The song sold over two million copies and got Charlie a gold disc. It was followed by Fabulous, a top twenty hit in the US and a top ten hit in the UK and Wanderin’ Eyes his third Billboard hit and another top ten hit in the UK. Another single, Cool Baby, also made the top thirty in Britain, these hits of Charlie’s bringing in enough money to make the Cameo label an ongoing success over the years. He appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, appeared in the film Jamboree and played on major tours with such artists as Chuck Berry, the Everlys, Bo Diddley and Eddie Cochran. Charlie was also a great admirer of Buddy Holly.

In 1957, Charlie became only the second American rock and roll artist to tour Britain, returning the following year and headlining major UK venues including the Palladium and the Hippodrome. Future members of the Hollies and the Beatles were among his audiences, including Graham Nash and George Harrison, who referred to his guitar technique as ‘brilliant.’ In the 90s he made an album with Robert Gordon and in 200 supported Van Morrison on his US tour.

Gracie also recorded for the Coral, Roulette, Felstead and Diamond labels and today regularly tours the UK and has a large fan base across Europe. In 1998 Charlie was inducted into the British Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in the States in 2001. In 2012 he was also inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hall of Fame.

In 2011 ABKCO released the CD For the Love of Charlie, featuring Gracie, Graham Nash, Peter Noone and other top musicians and produced by Al Kooper. He released Baby Doll in 2011 which picked up UK airplay and in 2019 has another new single Can’t Stop Rockin’, which is also picking up airplay on both sides of the Atlantic. In the summer of 2018, while in Britain with his wife Joan, Charlie was presented with his copy of Buddy Holly’s J-45 “I’m Gonna Love You Too.”.

Joe Brown
Jools Holland