Charles was born in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1943. Before he sang professionally, he built up quite a local reputation wailing at churches and community functions. When Charles was 12 years old, his uncle drove him from his home in Paterson, N.J. him to Newark, N.J. to study singing with the legendary jazz vocalist Jimmy Scott. When Charles was 16, his uncle accompanied him to New York City to try his luck at the amateur talent shows held at the Apollo Theater. Surprisingly, Charles won the renowned contest for four consecutive weeks.
Charles' uncle then hooked up his warbling kin with Phil Medley, a jack-of-all-trades who was an accomplished singer, songwriter, producer, and arranger. Impressed by the lad's delivery, Medley cut a demo with Charles singing a song Medley had been trying to place entitled A Million to One. He got the ear of Bill Lashley, an executive at Promo Records, and played it for him. Promo liked the demo and signed the youngster to a recording contract. They redid Medley's song with the Revellettes backing the singer. The Revellettes were a trio from Paterson New Jersey, and were friends of Jimmy's and included sisters Jackie and Evelyn Kline, and Dottie Hailstock. When the song was recorded, they did 16 takes to get the one they wanted. It was a very hot day in Paterson, and the flip they nailed in just one try. The dreamy ballad ascended to number five on Billboard's Top 100 in September 1960. It was also released on the London label for both the UK and Australia, and it was pressed on Reo for Canada. The record received worldwide acclaim
His career ended as quickly as it started. The Age of Love, Charles' next release, stalled at the 47th position, 42 slots lower than A Million to One. Jimmy Charles also released two Christmas records in 1960. Santa Won't Be Blue This Christmas backed with I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus was the first. The second was Christmasville USA and A Little White Mouse Called Steve. The latter was a record that did receive airplay, but did not become a national chart hit. A subsequent release called Just Whistle for Me failed to attract much attention or airplay either, and his career was quickly over. Jimmy did continue to tour on the strength of A Million To One, well into the 60's. Today, he resides in Texas, and has started singing again when time permits.
|Year||"A" Side||"B" Side||U.S.||U.S.
|1960||"A Million to One"||"Hop Scotch Hop"||5||8||Promo 1002|
|1960||"The Age for Love"||"Follow the Swallow"||47||--||Promo 1003|
|1960||"Santa Won't Be Blue This Christmas"||"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"||--||--||Promo 1004|
|1960||"Xmasville"||"Little White Mouse Called Steve"||--||--||Promo 1005|
Brian Lee interview with Jimmy Charles 2005