But don’t judge the book by its title; this is an optimistic, feel-good story from a surprisingly humble man. Though it would have rounded out the narrative to hear more about the pain and bitterness he must have felt as his fortunes changed, and more detail about the forces that contributed to Gracie’s fall from stardom may have given the story more depth, his work ethic and optimism carries the day. Polyanna? Maybe. But Charlie Gracie’s unwavering positivity in a world of cynics is refreshing.
One of Philadelphia's original pioneers of rock 'n' roll, Charlie Gracie has put together a career that's spanned more than 60 years. At 14, he experienced his first moment in the spotlight on Paul Whiteman's TV Teen Club, a popular variety show from the early 1950s. Since then, Gracie has blended blues, country and gospel into his particular style of rock, in the process eliciting praise from the likes of and , who recently paid tribute to Gracie by covering one of Gracie's biggest hits, "Fabulous."
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Gracie’s story quickly moves away from the typical narrative of a talented kid who made good and becomes a tale of a man who had the world at his feet one moment and could barely get a gig the next. This is when the book becomes truly interesting, thanks in large part to his unusual attitude and reaction to this drastic change of circumstance. Instead of the usual coping methods we expect from down-on-their-luck musicians — violence, drug use, or adultery — Charlie Gracie never lost faith, never broke down, and never stopped working. He appears to have an incredible ability to bounce back from the countless near-misses and bad breaks that kept him off the radar for decades (perhaps too incredible; his patience at times seems superhuman). While much of the world forgot about Gracie, he persevered, performing wherever he could and sticking close to his Philadelphia roots.
Then, finally, I could write a letter directly to to The Man I had adored so much for so many years. He soon answered my letter and all my questions- but not only that; Charlie Gracie -the great man himself- also sent me a (then) newly recorded album, several photos plus new and old promotion pictures.