THE CONTROVERSIAL SERIES WRITTEN BY STARS
(23 April 1960)
STRAIGHT TALKING GENE VINCENT
In America I was just an amateur
Britain made me a professional
I have travelled all over the world as a rock ‘n’ roll singer, but I tell you this: It has taken me these five months in Britain to become a real professional.
Too many visiting American singers come to this country thinking they know it all. But they don’t.
And I’m the first to admit I still have a lot to learn.
This visit to England-which ends in August-has been a real experience. I feel, too, it has been a great success.
But don’t think I have made it on my own. I haven’t. I owe a lot to Jack Good. That man has more musical sense in his little finger than I could acquire in a lifetime.
I am a very shy person-although many may not realise it. I always have been shy. Facing an audience used to terrify me.
Jack, however, has given me confidence.
For the first time I can look an audience in the face. But I used to sing just for the band and-don’t laugh-myself !
However, one thing you may have noticed is, I never speak on the stage.
This is something I can’t do.
I don’t know how to put my feelings into words. I’m not sure what to say. And I do say something I think that people will find me very dull. A bore !
My rule is: Keep my mouth shut.
Of course, I would like to let the audience know how grateful I am for their applause and support. But I remain silent because I’d probably goof-or dry up.
While I’ve been in this country I’ve watched a bit of television and I must say thye presentation of your shows is a hundred per cent better than shows on American TV.
For example, on our TV programme “American Bandstand,” you’re just put in front of a camera and told to get on with it. Also singing “live” in Britain is much better than miming to records which is the general rule in the States.
I enjoy meeting and working with some of your rock ‘n’ roll boys.
But I can’t say I agree with their habit of practising all the moves for their act before they go on stage. This, I feel, is all wrong.
When I get to work my moves are spontaneous. They’re not rehearsed or worked out beforehand. That’s one big difference between us.
When rock ‘n’ roll first came out in America the critics said it would last, at the most, six months. The time went by, then they gave it a further six. Now they don’t say a word. And very wise they are, too.
I was interested to note that many people who slammed it in the early days-were the first to jump on the band-wagon when its popularity increased.
There are still those who look on rock ‘n’ roll as a crazy mixed-up trend that will pass. But they should remember that rock ‘n’ roll is still music.
I’m often asked what music I like best. Well, I like all types. I think people in the profession should. However, I must say that I don’t rave about jazz. Perhaps that’s because I don’t understand it. If I had more opportunity of hearing it I might change my mind.
My real love is the blues. I was raised in Virginia where I was born.
I still remember, as a small boy, listening to the coloured folk singing “All God’s Chil’n Got Shoes” as they went on their way to the cotton fields.
I sing blues numbers very often in the States.
I’m on the mailing list of most of the recording companies in America and I recently received an excellent recording-by a blues singer-called “Accentuate The Positive.” I played the number over and loved it.
Unfortunately, there are so many recording companies in the States that a lot of first-class numbers get lost in the shuffle.
I’m sure that the sole reason it wasn’t a best seller was because it was put out by a small recording company. That way few people got the chance of hearing it. Anyway, I have recorded it myself…and, now that it will soon be released on a bigger label, I’m hoping it will get into the charts.
My continual worry - and the worry of most entertainers - is making sure that the public is getting what it wants.
There is always the fear in the back of your mind that one day you may go on stage and find the audience doesn’t want you any more.
You finish your act and maybe there will be no applause. If that ever happened to me I’d quit immediately and buy a farm in Virginia.
I began life as a poor boy.
But today I can afford the things I want. I have worked hard for them.
I think, perhaps, some singers find success too easily.
They get to the top on the strength of one recording. This can be a bad thing for them because it doesn’t give them a chance to get that essential experience every entertainer must have to ensure lasting popularity.
What I think all show people must work for-whatever particular branch of the business they are in-is perfection.
It is difficult to be a perfectionist without that experience behind you.
My latest recording is “My Heart.” It has done quite well-but I must confess I don’t like it. I feel I could have done a much better job.
This works both ways. You can cut a disc and think it’s the greatest thing you have ever done. Then you discover everyone hates it.
That’s what is fascinating about this business.