Early rock star Charlie Gracie passes away

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.

Gracie played himself on the big screen

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.

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.

First solo American artist to tour in Britain

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.

Early rock star remembered as “a giant”

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.”

Radio DJ and producer “Fast” Eddie Caiazzo spoke up as well, declaring that he was “blessed to have known and interviewed” Gracie.