SCREAMIN’ GENE VINCENT EXPLODING NEXT WEEK !
One aspect of Gene Vincent’s vocal prowess that isn’t too well known in this country is his noteworthy ability as an earthy blues singer. And Gene, let’s face it, has every right to sing the blues, for few other artists have had to fight against bitter disappointments and setbacks that have dogged his every step in show business.
On two occasions, the tousle-haired American rock star has been involved in serious road accidents. The first, early in his promising career, was a motorcycle crash in America, which left him with a crippled left foot that necessitated the constant wearing of a leg iron.
But Vincent triumphed over adversity and fought his way back into the big leagues of rock ‘n’ roll. Then came an even more serious road accident in which Gene narrowly escaped death. It happened on April 17 last year-the car crash that robbed the music world of one of its brightest young talents, Eddie Cochran.
Multiple head injuries and a fractured collar bone meant a spell in hospital for Gene, but it wasn’t his physical losses which hurt him so much as the loss of his close friend.
But he didn’t sing the blues for long. Within a matter of weeks, Gene was back on stage and working as hard as ever. He appeared under a tremendous mental and physical strain, and there were times when he was on the verge of collapsing.
Exhaustion finally took its toll soon after Gene’s return to the States last year, and he was finally persuaded to enter hospital for a well-deserved rest.
Some U.S. concert engagements last year marked Gene’s return to active show business, and right now he’s on his way back to Britain. On Monday he begins a tour with Chris Wayne and the Echoes at West Bromwich, and next month, teams up with a package show headed by rising young Jess Conrad.
Gene’s lengthy visit last year (it actually began late in 1959 with a guest appearance on the ABC-TV “Boy Meets Girls” series) did much to stimulate interest in his work.
He launched three discs into the best sellers during 1960-”Wild Cat”, “My Heart” and Eddie Cochran’s modernised arrangement of the oldie “Pistol Packin’ Momma.”
In recent months, Gene has been enjoying a modicum of success via his “Annabelle” disc and he’s hoping that his forthcoming personal appearances will help put him back in the charts. To coincide with his visit here, Capitol have issued his revival of the old Frankie Laine hit “Jezebel.” A few in-person plugs could well boost the disc to hit parade status.
A strange thing about Gene is that, unlike the majority of today’s rock stars, his popularity is greater with the fellows than the girls.
The reason, I imagine, is that Gene’s down-to-earth, unromantic approach and extremely masculine stage rig (black leather jacket and trousers) prompts the fellows to assume he’s “one of the boys”- an everyday guy looking for kicks and getting them from hard, driving music.
What is Vincent like as a person ? Basically, he’s an introvert-a shy, retiring person who keeps himself to himself and, on first meeting, gives the wrong impression of being somewhat unsociable and extremely uncommunicative.
But when you get to know him well, as I did, he overcomes his natural shyness and opens up.
His obvious modesty is no act-he declines to talk about himself for any length of time and quickly changes the subject when someone is about to compliment him. But on the other hand, he is eager to lavish praise on other artists, and eulogises about such stars as Ray Charles and Brenda Lee at the drop of a hat.
During his last visit, Gene acquired a lasting affection for Britain and his imminent return here comes as no real surprise. “I like Britain a whole lot, and I would like to spend more time here in the future,” he once told me. “And the fans are just great-very friendly and loyal people. It’s a real pleasure to work here.”
Well, Gene’s going to have that pleasure again next week-and it’s going to be no less a pleasure for his many thousands of British fans, who this week join me in bidding the rocking Mr. Vincent a warm welcome back to the country he calls his “second home.”
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