Born: Feb. 21, 1938 in Abbeville, La.
Died: Jan. 14, 2010
Robert Charles Guidry began his career in music, performing with a small combo at Mount Carmel High School dances. At the age of fourteen, he wrote a song that would firmly establish him in Rock 'N Roll history. "See You Later Alligator" caught the attention of Leonard Chess whose record label, Chess Records, was emerging on the national music scene.
Chess arranged for the young Louisiana singer to record the song in Cosimo Matassa's studio on North Rampart Street in New Orleans. The song gained immediate popularity. Chess signed Charles as an artist for his label, and dropped Guidry from his name feeling that "Bobby Charles" would be more memorable. Charles became the only white artist on an all-black label, touring with Chuck Berry and others.
Soon after, Bill Haley and the Comets recorded a cover version of "See You Later Alligator", which soon became a hit around the world, helping to establish Bill Haley as the father of Rock 'N Roll. Charles continued to grow as a songwriter, achieving critical acclaim for his 1971 self-titled album for Bearsville Records. When commercial success didn't measure up to creative accomplishments, he became disenchanted with the record business and moved back to Abbeville to create the children's program, "The Solution to Pollution."
Through the years Charles' songs have been recorded by a variety of artists. Fats Domino made Charles' "Walking to New Orleans" a hit, but many other artists have recorded his compositions including Ray Charles, Etta James, Lou Rawls, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Junior Wells, UB40, Joe Cocker, Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield, Dr. John, Wilson Pickett, Jackie DeShannon, Tom Jones, Amos Garrett, Kris Kristofferson, Rita Coolidge, Bonnie Bramlett, Bo Diddley, Delbert McClinton, David Alan Coe and Jerry Jeff Walker.