Maxwell’s Memories: Charlie Gracie
[Continuing the ongoing Maxwell’s Memories feature here on Hoboken411. Paying tribute to bands that came and played at the legendary Maxwell’s at 1039 Washington Street – which is closing for good on July 31, 2013]
Maxwell’s Memories: Charlie Gracie
On February 9, 2007 – Charlie Gracie, a superb guitarist who shot to fame in the early 1950’s, “graced” Maxwell’s with his presence. As you can see from the video below – Charlie was still tearing it up at age 70 (he’s 77 now)! Good times.
About Charlie Gracie
Charlie Gracie is one of a diminishing number of rock& roll innovators, who continues to actively perform. A native of South Philadelphia, he became the first successful recording star of the “Rock Era” to emerge from that neighborhood. In 1957, Charlie’s “Butterfly” topped the American and British music charts, selling over 3 million copies. His other late 50’s big sellers include: “Fabulous”, “Ninety-Nine Ways”, “Wanderin Eyes”, “I Love You So MuchIt Hurts” and “Cool Baby.” These hits bankrolled Philly’s famous Cameo-Parkway record label, making it a dominant force in the music industry for nearly a decade! At the height of his fame, Charlie frequently appeared on “Dick Clark’s American Bandstand”, “The Ed Sullivan Show”, and “Alan Freed’s TV Specials”. He headlined shows at the Brooklyn Paramount, the Casino Royale in Washington, the 500 Club in Atlantic City, the Opera House in Chicago and old Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia.
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. Precededonly by Bill Haley and the Comets, Charlie headlined London’s Palladium and Hippodrome–receiving outstanding receptions from the press and public. To this day, Charlie Gracie, is a much loved and respected performer the length and breadth of the United Kingdom.
While Charlie has earned a place in rock music history, this is only one dimension to a career that spans 60-years. His versatility makes him the consummate music man! Even now, Charlie enjoys a strong following at clubs and resorts along the Northeast Corridor of the U.S. Twice, annually, he performs tolarge audiences in countries such as: England, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Finland and Holland. His superb guitar playing elicited the highest of praise from music legends like George Harrison. The late Beatle once referred to Charlie’s guitar technique as “brilliant” in a March 1996 interview with Billboard Magazine. Paul McCartney paid tribute to Charlie by recording an updated version of “Fabulous” in cd series entitled: “Run Devil Run”. McCartney honored Charlie again that fall by inviting him to the album’s premiere party in London.
The new Millenium found Charlie on the road with Irish blues rocker, Van Morrison. Van, another Charlie Gracie admirer, commissioned him to open several shows on a West Coast tour–including the Wiltern in Los Angeles the House of Blues in Las Vegas and the Hilton in Reno. In 2007 Charlie was the subject of amade for PBS-TV documentary: “Fabulous!” The program recounted the story of his influential career- from humble beginnings in his South Philadelphia row home (735 Pierce Street) to concert stages around the world! Today, Charlie is still doing what he loves best. His reputation among his peers as a stellar, multi-faceted singer and musician is such that world famous rock stars regularly pay him tribute and volunteer to work with him. In the fall of 2011, ABKCO Records released his latest CD: “FOR THE LOVE OF CHARLIE!” produced by Al Kooper, who has recorded and produced the likes of Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. Among the artists performing with Charlie on the CD are: Graham Nash, (Crosby, Stills Nash & Young), Peter Noone (Herman’s Hermits), Jimmy Vivino (guitarist & music director; Conan O’Brien Show), Craig Ross (keyboards; Lenny Kravitz) and Dennis Diken (drummer; Smithereens), “What an honor to have these people on my album,” he says. “They don’t need Charlie Gracie, but they love what I put down as a foundation years ago, and I’m humbled that these artists would want to perform with me.”
It is obvious why Charlie Gracie has lasted the course longer than most. He is an accomplished musician and an exceptional talent – a devoted family man whoconducts himself as a gentleman both on stage and off. He is a credit to his industry. And what’s next for this Rockabilly Hall of Fame inducee? Is he readyto retire after more than six decades in the business? Hardly. “I’m getting started on my next album and I’m in the process of writing a book!” Charlie Gracie has only just begun to rock!
About Maxwell’s Memories
Maxwell’s Bar officially opened back in 1978 by the Fallon family, and was converted from a “workers tavern” (for nearby Maxwell House coffee workers), into a “Bar/restaurant.” After the original members of The Bongos rehearsed some material in the back-room (which at the time was unused), “live music” began to catch on, and Hoboken was beginning to become inviting to both musicians and artists. Maxwell’s was also even believed to be the first restaurant to offer a “Sunday brunch” in town.
In the mid-90’s, due to some ownership re-arrangements, Maxwell’s was briefly a micro-brew pub, trying to capitalize on that fad, but quickly reverted back to a standard comfort food bar/restaurant and music venue in 1998 – and had remained that way ever since.
Despite apparently being named the number three “rock ‘n’ roll club” in America by Rolling Stone magazine in 2013 – Maxwell’s announced their abandonment of the property (and Hoboken), effective July 31, 2013.
Maxwell’s Memories is a collection of previously unpublished photographs and videos of various bands and acts that performed on the famous local stage.