Channel originally performed on the Louisiana Hayride radio show, and then joined up with harmonica player Delbert McClinton singing country music. Channel wrote "Hey! Baby" with Margaret Cobb in 1959 and performed the song for two years before recording it for Fort Worth record producer Bill Smith. It was originally released on Bill Smith's LeCam label, but as it started to sell well it was picked up for distribution by Smash. The song reached #1 in the US in March 1962 and remained in that position for three weeks. Besides topping the U.S. pop charts, it became #2 in the United Kingdom in 1962 as well. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. While Channel is often regarded as a one-hit wonder, he did chart four more singles on the Billboard Hot 100, including "Number One Man" which peaked at #52, "Come On Baby" #98, "Going Back To Louisianna" #89 and "Mr. Bus Driver" which peaked at #90.
Channel toured Europe and was supported at one gig by the Beatles, who were then still unknown. John Lennon, who had "Hey! Baby" on his jukebox, was fascinated by McClinton's harmonica. A popular urban legend has it 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 break in "Hey! Baby" inspired Lennon's playing on the Beatles' first single, 1962's "Love Me Do", as well as later Beatles records, and the harmonica break on Frank Ifield's "I Remember You."
The key to the appeal of "Hey! Baby" is the sustained first note, with a rhythmic pattern in the background. This device appeared later in 1962 on the hit "Sherry" (1962) by the Four Seasons, and recurred on the Beatles' "I Should Have Known Better" (on A Hard Day's Night, 1964).
Channel's only other Top 40 recording in the UK Singles Chart was June 1968's "Keep On" reaching no. 12, which was written by Wayne Carson Thompson and produced by Dale Hawkins. Channel disliked touring, so he settled in as a songwriter in Nashville, Tennessee, scoring a number of BMI Award-winning songs in the 1970s and 1980s - "As Long As I'm Rockin' With You" for John Conlee; "Don't Worry 'bout Me Baby" for Janie Fricke; "Party Time" for T. G. Sheppard; "You're the Best" (co-written with and recorded by Kieran Kane); and "Stand Up" for Mel McDaniel. In 1987, Channel's song "Hey! Baby" song was featured in the movie "Dirty Dancing".
In 1995 Channel recorded his own version of "Stand Up" for the Memphis, Tennessee-based Ice House label. Delbert McClinton reprised his role on harmonica on it, and several other tracks including a heavy duty version of "Hey! Baby." Channel then recorded a project in 2002 with singer-songwriter Larry Henley (ex-Newbeats), billed as Original Copy.
Channel has been inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.