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Charlie Gracie artifacts on loan to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

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A vintage guitar and other items belonging to pioneering early rocker Charlie Gracie of Philadelphia are now on display at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.

In March, Charlie Gracie’s wife Joan and son Charlie Jr. traveled to Cleveland to meet Greg Harris, president and CEO of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. The Rock Hall requested artifacts including Charlie’s guitar, a Guild X-350 Stratford, for a new exhibition.

Greg Harris (center) accepts Charlie Gracie’s guitar from Charlie Jr. and Gracie’s widow Joan.

As Charlie Jr. kissed his father’s legendary 1957 Guild guitar “goodbye” temporarily, emotions ran high, so Harris comforted a tear-filled Joan. Prior to its arrival at the museum, the guitar was blessed by Rev. Matthew Phelan, a close Gracie family friend, who administered the last sacraments to Gracie before his passing on Dec. 16, 2022.

Also included in the exhibit is a suit, photos of the marquees from Charlie’s headlining appearances at the London Hippodrome and Alan Freed Shows (Paramount Theatre in New York City), an original Charlie Gracie extended play single with picture sleeve (Parlophone label), and original fan club buttons from the late 1950s.

“Charlie Gracie’s influence was massive, extending from his hometown of Philadelphia, Pa., to around the globe,” Harris said. “Charlie was as authentic as it gets and you can see why Paul McCartney, Graham Nash, Van Morrison and many of the early rockers loved him so much.”

Gracie’s Guild guitar, which accompanied him to concert appearances in more than15 countries around the world throughout his career, will be the centerpiece for the exhibit titled “Rave On,” named after the Buddy Holly song.

The exhibit celebrates all the great foundational artists of rock music from the 1950s on up. It will feature Buddy Holly, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Ricky Nelson, The Everly Brothers, Dion, Ritchie Valens, Fats Domino and more.

The exhibit opened just in time for Charlie Gracie’s birthday May 14.

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