The 1962 “Hey! Baby” singer Bruce Channel turns 78 today

Channel’s biggest hit “Hey! Baby” influenced John Lennon harmonica riff that he used on The Beatles debut single “Love Me Do”

The 1962 “Hey! Baby” singer Bruce Channel turns 78 today

Bruce Channel was born on November 28, 1940 in Jacksonville, Texas. Channel became popular with the song “Hey! Baby” which he wrote with Margaret Cobb in 1959. The song, that featured a prominent riff from well-known harmonica player Delbert McClinton , went to #1 in the US during March 1962 and held that position for three weeks. Besides topping the U.S. popular music charts, it became #2 in the United Kingdom as well and it sold more than one million copies. Channel had four more singles on the Billboard Hot 100, including “Number One Man”, “Come On Baby”, “Going Back To Louisiana”, and “Mr. Bus Driver”, but none of them were as successful as “Hey! Baby”.  He toured Europe and was assisted at one gig by the Beatles, who were then still little known. John Lennon, who had “Hey! Baby” on his jukebox, was fascinated by McClinton’s harmonica. A popular legend is that Lennon was taught to play harmonica by McClinton, but by that time Lennon had already been playing the instrument live for some time. The harmonica segment in “Hey! Baby” inspired Lennon’s playing on the Beatles’ first single, 1962’s “Love Me Do”, as well as later Beatles records. “Hey! Baby” was featured on the soundtrack of the popular movie “Dirty Dancing” in 1987 giving the song a resurgence at the time and also again in 2001 when DJ Ötzi remixed and produced his own version of it and went No.1 around the world. Channel, who has been inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, turns 77 today.

Look back at Bruce Channel performing “Hey! Baby” on TV in 1962

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