Pioneer rock n' roller still going strong for almost 7 decades

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Thursday, September 13, 2018
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Pioneer rock n' roller still going strong for almost 7 decades. Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 12 p.m. on September 13, 2018.

One of the pioneers of rock n' roll arose from South Philadelphia several decades ago and he's still going strong today.

Charlie Gracie has been making music for nearly 70 years.

He was 13 when his father bought him a guitar and gave him these words of advice

"Pick an instrument out. Make something of yourself. I don't want you to work like a donkey like I have all my life," said Gracie.

Gracie got his big break in 1952 t the age of 16 when he appeared on Paul Whiteman's TV Teen Club here on Channel 6.

"I won the family's first refrigerator. We had an ice box before that," he said.

In 1957, Gracie knocked Elvis Presley off the top of the charts with "Butterfly," a song that sold 3 and a half MILLION copies.

"His name is Charlie Gracie. He comes from Philadelphia so let's all join in and give him a big hand."

He appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, American Bandstand and the 1957 film, Jamboree.

He also became a huge star in England.

"I went there and I took the country by storm," said Gracie.

He was the first solo American Artist to bring rock and Roll to the British stage.

Paul McCartney paid tribute to the rock and roll pioneer with an updated version of Gracie's, Fabulous.

And at age 82, Gracie is still performing down the shore and around the world.

"I intend to do what I've done all my life. I need an audience. You put the light on. You give me the guitar, I'll entertain but I mean, 'it's been a joy to me.'"


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