GENE VINCENT STARTS ON HIS SEVENTH TOUR!
It seems that the job of welcoming the perennial Gene Vincent in print is becoming a regular, but not unpleasant chore. For Gene begins his fifth tour of Britain in 18 months on March 31 - and already his trip has been extended twice!
Originally, he was only to have played concerts with Brenda Lee, but enquiries about other theatre and ballroom appearances have resulted in promoter Don Ardent, who is also Gene’s European manager, extending the tour to accommodate other shows with her, and-when fans were still not satisfied-he cabled Gene asking him to stay for a total of five weeks!
Happily for the thousands who flock to see him on stage, Gene has agreed, and on March 28, this curly-haired, shy character with a perpetual air of loneliness, flies into London Airport, then rehearses for a couple of days before embarking on a long itinerary.
Isn’t it strange that an artist who has not had a big hit record for some time continues to attract full houses?
Presenting his rock ‘n’ roll songs, Gene uses a style that is six years out of date. He does not bother about putting his own interpretation on other artists’ hits, and, by and large, sticks to a now familiar repertoire.
Any other artist trying to get away with this approach would surely be laughed off the stage. But Gene’s fans take him as seriously as he takes himself. He is devoted to the life he leads, and is completely carried away when he has a mike in his hand and a rockin’ band behind him.
Perhaps one explanation for Gene’s perpetual attraction is the fact that there are still many people who respond to the excitement he generates. It is an excitement that has to be seen, as well as heard, to be properly experienced.
Even Gene’s appearances on TV - remember him in “Boy Meets Girls” with Eddie Cochran ? - failed to show exactly why the crude rock ‘n’ roll he revitalised brought the crowds in.
Only those who have seen him on stage will know the difference between the “real Gene” and the “electronic Gene” as projected on disc and TV.
Unfortunately, I don’t think that the Gene Vincent who stormed the charts on both sides of the Atlantic with ” Be Bop-A-Lula” will reach his fantastic best again until he completely recovers from the illness that has dogged him since April 1960.
Remember he was seriously injured in a car crash - the same crash that killed Cochran, his best friend - and he has never been completely fit since then. For months after the accident he went through much mental anguish, and great discomfort because of his insistence that he should keep on working.
As later visits showed, Gene’s stubbornness in this direction did tremendous harm to his physical condition. He was caught in a vicious circle because the energy he put into his act wasn’t being fully replaced.
Luckily, he has had four months rest in the Californian sunshine since his last trip here.
As if to emphasise Gene’s visit, the film in which he makes a brief guest appearance, “It’s Trad Dad,” will be released during his stay.
In this, Gene, clad in white, sings “Spaceship To Mars,” penned by recording manager Norrie Paramor and the film’s producer, Milton Subotsky.
At the moment, there are no plans to release this as a single, but it will be incorporated on the LP from the film, which is being issued on the Columbia label in May.
He is backed by his British accompanying band, Sounds Incorporated who are also featured in their own right in the film.
Gene’s current single “Lucky Star,” coupled with “Baby, Don’t Believe Him,” was released earlier this month.
On this his backing is supplied by the Dave Burgess Band, instead of the Blue Caps, who have yet to make their British bow.
Incidentally, Gene’s fans may be interested to know that the Blue Caps are still in existence. They do not always use their name, but accompany who record in Hollywood and Nashville.
One of their more recent tasks was backing their friend Troy Shondell on his hit parade waxing of “This Time.”
The story is that the Blue Caps crowded into a room of Troy’s home to help him wax the number. A keen recording enthusiast, Troy had enlisted their help, never dreaming that the tape would turn out to be a big hit.
What are Gene’s plans for the future ? Is he still planning to settle in Britain, which he already treats as his second home ?
These and other questions cannot be answered until Gene arrives - and if I can snatch a few minutes of his time during the hectic itinerary, I’ll tell you what he says.
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