Airdate – August 28, 2022
At the age of 86 at the time of this writing, the legendary rockabilly singer and guitarist, Charlie Gracie, is still going strong. One of the forgotten pioneers of Rock & Roll, he is most recognized for his #1 1957 hit “Butterfly” and his Elvis sound-a-like follow up record, “Fabulous.”
He still enjoys a loyal following in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, and the Netherlands, where he toured for many years. In 1981 he recorded a cover version of a 1958 rockabilly song on the Blackjack label while in Belgium …
That 1958 rockabilly song that Gracie covered was originally recorded by a performer who created an opportunity for himself after moving to Long Beach, California from Arkansas. In California he met country stars Bobby Bare and Lefty Frizzell which ultimately led to his performing at the Jubilee Ballroom in Baldwin, California.
He soon became recognized for his Elvis Presley-like gyrations on stage and his wildness. And he was quite aware of this, being quick to comment, “I was much wilder than Jerry Lee Lewis or Little Richard.”
In fact, upon returning to Arkansas, our featured performer had a run-in with Jerry Lee Lewis that included him destroying Lewis’ piano. After subsequent stories of his misbehavior made the rounds among promoters, he was effectively excluded as a public performer everywhere.
In the 1970s, he played country music, and in the 1980s, he found some success in Europe during the rockabilly revival there.
In somewhat of a role reversal, in 1997, he was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives, where he served until 2002.
His name was Bobby Lee Trammell, a rebel rouser, once characterized as an artist who could drink and play with the best of them. An extremist who would describe his dream partner as “You Mostest Girl,” this week’s Tom Locke moment in time.
YouTube video of this song: