GENE VINCENT and EDDIE COCHRAN rave about the same girl!
KEITH GOODWIN meets two gallant travellers
EDDIE COCHRAN and Gene Vincent, America’s semi-permanent representatives on the British pop music scene, are feeling pleased with themselves. And well they might ! Gene has just got over an attack of pneumonia, while Eddie is still recovering from an irritating bout of insomnia !
“It’s been pretty tough these last few weeks,” Eddie ventured, when I called on the likeable pair at their London flat earlier this week.
“But everybody’s been real good to us, and that’s how we got on our feet again so quickly,” Gene added.
Music is the dominating factor in the lives of these young stars, so it was inevitable that the record player should be going full blast when I knocked on the door. And I’d hardly settled myself in a chair before they were singing the praises of hit parade newcomer Brenda Lee.
In between spins of “Sweet Nuthin’s,” husky voiced Gene said enthusiastically: “What a voice ! It’s unbelievable for someone so young !”
Then Eddie joined in: “Listen to that drive-isn’t she great ?” Are Gene and Eddie fans of this curly-headed, 15-year-old bundle of dynamite ? “You bet,” they chorused !
On Sunday, the rocking twosome return to America for a 10-day holiday. Then it’s back to Britain for more one-night-stands and a summer season show at Blackpool. Gene was rather non-committal about his trip to the States. “I’ve got some business to attend to,” was his simple explanation.
Eddie, on the other hand, was more explicit. “Well, I have some TV shows and stage dates lined up. Also, I have to attend talks for a film which I’ll be making later in the year. This is very important to me, since it’ll be my first dramatic acting r^ le,” he said.
I was eager to learn how the boys had enjoyed the first half of their British tour. And in between lengthy discussions on the merits of Ray Charles, Brenda Lee, Josh White and other American stars, I fired the questions in a three way conversation.
Keith: What do you think of British big-beat artists ?”
Eddie: Well, there’s no denying you have some very, very good singers here. But if you’d seen as many rock ‘n’ roll singers as we have, then you’d appreciate that it’s very seldom we get really knocked out by an artist.
Keith: Were you impressed by anyone in particular ?
Gene: Yes, Wee Willie Harris. He’s real good. I liked him a lot. You see, he’s different from the others, and we have nothing like him in the States. I certainly got a kick out of Willie. And Joe Brown-he’s great, too.
Eddie: Yes, Joe is fine. A good singer and instrumentalist, and very funny. I’m certain he would go down great in America. I also enjoyed Vince Eager. He’s an exciting artist.
Keith: How did you find British audiences ?
Eddie: They were real good to us. But, I don’t think they’re quite as demonstrative as in the States. Over there, they often go nuts even when you’re just announcing a number. But in Britain, they’re somewhat more reserved and polite.
Gene: I found that they went more for my wild rock songs than my ballads. But on the whole, they weren’t too different from American audiences. They scream a lot and clap and get excited just like Americans. I guess audiences are pretty much the same the world over.
Keith: What did you think of the fans you met ?
Gene: I loved them. They’re very devoted and very friendly, and it was a pleasure to meet them. But so many of them just don’t look like teenagers. They seem so grown up in the way they dress and act.
Eddie: I love them, too. Their loyalty is amazing at times. For instance, we saw the same fans at theatres all over the country. They must have travelled miles to see us.
Keith: Did they ask for souvenirs ?
Gene: Well, yes. But most of them are happy just to shake your hand and have a little chat with you. I liked that. Mind you, I gave away quite a lot of souvenirs. American dimes (small silver coins) seem to be the favourite with the fans.
Eddie: And guitar picks-I’ve handed out a whole stack of the. Shirts, too. Now and again, a fan asks for one of my shirts as a keepsake, and I don’t like to say no. Also, on an average, we signed between 200 and 300 autographs each week.
Keith: How about working conditions in Britain ?
Eddie: Right off, I must tell you that I’ve been far more tired here than in the States. Why ? probably because we’ve had so little time to relax. People are always calling on us between shows (not that I’m complaining about that) and when we’re not working, we’re travelling.
Gene: Travelling, I would say, presents the biggest problem of all. Most of our journeys are by train. Now I don’t want to offend anybody, but I must say I don’t like British trains. They’re not comfortable, there’s no way to relax; travelling just becomes boring and sometimes unbearable.
Keith: What about theatres ?
Gene: Fine ! No complaints there. We’ve played some good places and have always been treated very well.
Eddie: I agree with Gene on this point. But I would say that I prefer doing one-night stands as opposed to whole weeks at one theatre. It’s just that I like a change.
Keith: What do you think of Britain as a country ?
Gene: Are you joking ? So much of our time has been taken up travelling that we really haven’t had time to see the country ! But seriously, I like it here, and would like to spend a lot more time in Britain in the future. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Eddie: More than anything else I enjoyed the people-they’re real nice and they’ve made us feel at home. On the other hand, I’m not crazy about your food. I miss home cooking a lot, and right now, I’m so homesick that I feel I just have to get back to the States for a few days.
Keith: Anything you particularly want to do when you get back here ?
Gene: Yes, there sure is. I’d like to do more TV shows with Jack Good. He’s the greatest guy I ever knew and he produces the best beat show of all. There’s nothing to compare with Jack’s show in the States.
Eddie: Me, too. I’d like to do some more programmes with Jack. He’s such a brilliant guy-frank and honest and enthusiastic. That’s why he’s such a good producer.
And that’s how it ended. Gene, his face covered with shaving cream, and Eddie, sporting dark glasses as he faced a sun-ray lamp, were still talking about Jack Good, and the record player was spinning once again as I left.
A nice couple of fellows-quiet, polite, unspoiled and as devoted to their fans as they are to them !
( quoted in full)