Remembering Charlie Gracie, Philly’s First Rock and Roll Star

Charlie Gracie in 2018
Image via Charles Fox, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Charlie Gracie in 2018
Charlie Gracie (right) with his wife, Joan,
and Paul McCartney in 2015.
Image via the Charlie Gracie Family

Charlie Gracie, whose music impacted the Beatles in the 1960s, died Friday in Aldan. He was 86, writes Dan DeLuca for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The South Philadelphia singer and guitarist had a 70-year music career.

He lived in Drexel Hill with wife Joan before moving to Springfield this year.

Considered Philadelphia’s first native son rock-and-roll star, Mr. Gracie had two hits in 1957, “Butterfly” and “Fabulous.”

Those songs got him on American Bandstand and Ed Sullivan.

After 15-year-old Paul McCartney saw Mr. Gracie perform, he recorded “Fabulous” decades later on his 1999 album Run Devil Run.

A McCartney quote in Mr. Gracie’s 2014 memoir states,  “When we were starting out with the Beatles, the music coming over from America was magical to us — and one of the artists who epitomized this magic was Charlie Gracie.”

Mr. Gracie acknowledged he was never as famous as Elvis Presley or Paul McCartney.

“But you know what? Being respected and loved by the people who followed you and became famous because of you — a little bit because of you — what more do you want out of life as a performer and artist?” he told the Inquirer in 2012.

Read more about the life of Mr. Gracie in The Philadelphia Inquirer.


Charlie Gracie performing “Cool Baby.”

Paul McCartney offers a birthday tribute to Charlie Gracie.

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