Monday, September 27, 2010

Gene Vincent - "Be-Bop-A-Lula" - Capital, 1956

Gene Vincent! You can't start talking about Rockabilly without mentioning Gene Vincent.  A true legend, and one of the pioneers of the Rockabilly movement.  Vincent Eugene Craddock was born in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1935.  Gene showed an interest in music early and got his first guitar at age 12.  He decided to pursue a career in the Navy instead, but luckily for music lovers, his miltary career was cut short and he never saw combat.  One thing Gene and I have in common - we both got into accidents on our Triumph motorcycles.  But his accident in 1955 was quite serious, and his leg was damaged so much that doctors wanted to amputate it.  He kept the leg, but walked with a limp and suffered chronic pain after that.

From Wikipedia:
"Craddock became involved in the local music scene in Norfolk. He changed his name to Gene Vincent, and formed a rockabilly band called the Blue Caps (a term used in reference to enlisted sailors in the U.S. Navy). The band included Willie Williams on rhythm guitar, Jack Neal on upright bass, Dickie Harrell on drums, and the innovative and influential lead guitarist, Cliff Gallup. "
Cliff rockin' in the studio
Cliff Gallup (June 17, 1930 - October 9, 1988) was an incredible guitarist who was a huge influence on many guitarists after him.  When I started to learn to play guitar, one of the first things I did was sit down and try to figure out the solo to Vincent's "Race With The Devil".  Cliff never understood all the fuss about his playing, and when he died had worked a long career as a school janitor.  His wife even requested the obituary not mention his time with the Blue Caps! Gallup was ranked 79th in Rolling Stone magazine list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" and is a Rockabilly Hall of Fame inductee.
"Be-Bop-A-Lula" was Gene's first big hit and it launched his career. Oddly, Capital didn't immediately recognize it as such and released it as a B-side.  This song was No. 102 on Rolling Stone magazine's "500 Greatest Rock and Roll Songs of All Time" list.
An ad from Captial. Gene in the right-corner,  in the good company of Wanda Jackson and Ernie Ford.
After Gene's career began to slow in the States, he started to tour Europe and found an appreciative audience.  In 1959 while touring England, he was involved in a taxi accident which left him with a broken collarbone and ribs.  The same accident left legend Eddie Cochran dead, many years before his time.

Gene Vincent died on October 12, 1971 from a ruptured stomach ulcer while visiting his father in California. He was the first inductee into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame upon its formation in 1997. The following year he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Vincent also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
And now, the clip!

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