JACK GOOD talks
…The Tooting show (second house) was an experience I am glad I did not miss. Gene Vincent, the shy, modest boy who addresses even the screaming kids as “Sir” or “Ma’am,” limped on to the stage to a deafening roar of applause.
He looked scared, and his mouth twitched nervously when he discovered that his mike was not working.
He found another that was. There was a slight embarrassed pause, then quite unexpectedly he swung his iron-braced left leg right over the mike, spun round a complete 360 degrees, and tore into “Be-Bop-A-Lula.”
The effect was electrifying. A Jekyll and Hyde story come true.
The nervous, silent, bewildered Texan was suddenly transformed into a crouching wildcat. Gene is no sex-bomb. He neither uses nor needs any of the suggestive movements that are usually associated with the stage performances of star rockers.
Vincent is a man’s man, a tough guy. He is rock ‘n’ roll’s James Cagney and it is for this reason that an unusually large proportion of his fan club consists of boys.
When I say that Gene uses no sexy movements, do not think that he does not move on the stage. He moves all right. And, visually, it is the most unusual rock presentation I have ever witnessed.
For a start, Gene carries his mike like a gun. He is, by repute, the third fastest draw in Hollywood: Jerry Lewis is number one. He crouches with the mike almost throughout the act. He has to, since he keeps it at a height of two feet six inches.
He never faces the audience, not even while talking to them, but keeps his head bent over the mike or turned towards the wings.
He spins, throws and catches the mike, and swings his leg over it in a single short burst of movement. Then, like a crouching tiger awaiting its prey, he will be stock-still for minutes on end.
It has been suggested, because of the noticeable use of repeating echo on his discs that Gene’s voice is a figment of the electronic imagination.
This is false. The very characteristic sound belongs to Gene, not the echo chamber, and it comes across very clearly over the not-very-good sound systems used at these concert dates.
At this particular concert, on the second house, the audience was by no means satisfied with hearing only five numbers from Gene. They roared “We want Gene” continuously so that the compere, Billy Raymond, could not get a word in edgeways.