Music fans were left grieving this week after rock and roll pioneer Charlie Gracie passed away on Thursday at the age of 86.
According to Billboard, Gracie's musical career began in 1951 when at 15 he was discovered by Cadillac Records owner Graham Prince.
That came following a performance on local radio show in his hometown of Philadelphia, and led him to put out a string of hit songs, including "Rockin' 'n' Rollin'," "Boogie Woogie Blues," "I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter."
However, Gracie's big break came in six years later when he released the chart-topping single "Butterfly," which became a Billboard number one hit.
Lucky enough to have seen ( and danced to) Charlie Gracie in person several times. RIP. https://t.co/UbNZ8e0C9g
— Paul Day (@PaulDayMK) December 18, 2022
From there, Gracie went on to perform alongside such musical legends as Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, the Everly Brothers, Bo Diddley, and Eddie Cochran.
What's more, Billboard noted that Gracie also made an appearance as himself in the 1957 musical romance film "Jamboree."
In addition to building a fan base in the United States, Gracie's official biography notes that he made an impact on British listeners as well.
"Charlie's star burned even brighter in Great Britain where he became the first solo American artist to bring rock & roll to the English concert stage," it states.
"Preceded only by Bill Haley and the Comets, Charlie headlined London's Palladium and Hippodrome--receiving outstanding receptions from the press and public," the bio adds.
Tributes to Gracie poured in on social media, including from Blues Hall of Fame inductee Ivan Bodley, who tweeted, "A giant has left the concert state."
A giant has left the concert stage. Safe passage to legend Charlie Gracie, Philadelphia's 1st rock & roll star on Cameo-Parkway records, and 1st solo rock & roll artist to tour the UK netting notable lifelong fans like the future Beatles, Hollies, Van Morrison, etc. 2021 photo. pic.twitter.com/qWFMJeXRYo
— Ivan Funkboy Bodley (@funkboynyc) December 19, 2022
Radio DJ and producer "Fast" Eddie Caiazzo spoke up as well, declaring that he was "blessed to have known and interviewed" Gracie.
Sad to report Philly's first Rock n' Roll star Charlie Gracie has passed away. From South Philly, Gracie once knocked Elvis out of the top spot on Billboard & put Cameo Records on the map.
Blessed to have known & interviewed the man.
— Fast Eddie Caiazzo (@EddieCaiazzo) December 18, 2022