In his youth, Charlie McClendon used to throw a pitchfork into a barn wall then hit the tines to hear the notes they made. Eventually he taught himself to play piano listening to the style of Fats Domino. Influenced by artists like Lowell Fulsome and Bobby Bland, McClendon started raising his own voice in song.
Around the age of 12-13, Charlie McClendon’s family migrated to the Hampton Roads area from Georgia and it was then Charlie McClendon began
to grow into the artist who would influence and inspire many other musicians and artists in the Hampton Roads area, both on the Southside and the Peninsula.
Charlie served in the United States Army, where he performed in a band while stationed overseas in Germany playing in the service clubs.
Eventually he returned to Virginia and formed another band, Charlie McClendon & the Magnificents.
The band was a popular act, playing in all sorts of venues in the area, making a name and a reputation for themselves. They shared billing with
some top acts and headlined there own shows. Charlie McClendon & the Magnificents eventually found themselves in recording studios, laying down the tracks for artists like Lenis Guess, pounding the backbeat in songs like “Just Ask Me.” Besides Lenis Guess, Frankie Guida had another artist named Gary U.S. Bonds, so Guida enlisted Charlie and the guys to record the tracks for Bonds’ hit record, “Take Me Back To New Orleans.”
Frankie Guida really liked what he heard from Charlie & the Magnificents, so he signed them to a two year deal.
Guida wasn’t the only label owner to recognize and desire Charlie McClendon. Richard Levine recognized talent of McClendon and the gang. “We’re Gonna Hate Ourselves In the Morning,” was recorded on L-Rev records in Virginia Beach, Virginia, making some noise for Charlie.
“Put Me Down Easy,” (a song written by Sam Cooke and recorded by Sam’s brother, L.C.) and “Need Love,” were also sides recorded by Charlie McClendon and the Magnificents for L-Rev. “Need Love” was written by the great General Norman Johnson.
Jerry Ross, who had Bill Deal and the Rondells on his Heritage label (distributed by MGM), signed Charlie, and when Ross launched his new label, Colossus in 1969, Charlie McClendon & the Magnificents were the first release with that rousing rendition of “We’re Gonna Hate Ourselves In the Morning,” and “Thing It Is” on the B side.
Charlie McClendon was not only recording in studios, he had his own studio in his home, back when it was a rarity for anyone to have a studio.
McClendon has inspired other artists from this region, artists like Daniel “Danny Gold” Goldstone, and David Williams. McClendon was big on the Beach music scene and is also a noted artist in the Northern Soul sound. Currently he has concentrated on his Gospel music and has been performing and releasing Gospel music for some time now.