GENE VINCENT - the star who doesn’t need hits
THE artist without a record. That’s what they are beginning to call him. Gene Vincent has not had a hit record in over a year. And yet he is capable of pulling them in on one-nighters to a greater extent than some American artists who visit this country to cash in on a hit disc in the charts.
Gene Vincent is different. He is still living off the records that are behind him. It is the name, he contends, and not the disc that counts.
“I was in at the beginning of things,” he says. “Then it was the artist who was sold to the public and not, as it is now, his latest record.
“I came in at a time when the name of an artist meant more and the name I built up then has stood me in good stead. I don’t believe that I have to rely on being as good as my last record.”
But, despite this logical philosophy, even Gene has to keep on making records. And hits count. This week he cut three singles in Britain before beginning his three-week tour of one-night stands. Norrie Paramor of EMI took the sessions and the numbers he cut were penned in Britain. Two of them by Charles Blackwell.
“But I don’t think that recording British numbers in England will necessarily influence there success over here,” he said. “After all, I still sing the same kind of number-I can’t really make it British, can I?”
“I suppose the real reasons for recording here is time-I’m over here for the tour-and my friendship with Norrie Paramor-we get along very well and there are British musicians here that I think are terrific.
“Also recording in another environment can produce something from an artist that he didn’t know he had. Something just that little different.
“But I’m not necessarily relying on any of the three records I’ve cut in Britain being a chart winner. I only really need them to sell well.
“It always helps, of course, to have a hit in the charts at the same time that you are touring. That much is obvious, but what I am saying is that it is not necessary if you are a name artist; and a hit doesn’t give you guaranteed drawing power.
Not the greatest
“I’m not one to ignore the charts, but I think it is stupid to rely on them as a reflection of your popularity on record.”
“One thing that is important for Americans over here is that they should not act the big I am. It doesn’t go down at all with British audiences.
“So many U.S. artists come over here and act as if they were the biggest thing that has hit this country since the Luftwaffe. British audiences don’t like it. They like to recognise you as a regular guy, one of the boys.
“The British don’t want that glamorous untouchable aura that is supposed to surround a star name. They want to identify themselves with him. Joe Brown is like this, they know he is just one of them and they like him for it.
“When I set out to give a British audience a performance I remember this. First of all they want a show. They don’t just want to hear that voice they’ve heard on records. They don’t just want a pretty uniform and a pretty face to go with it.
“In the first place I don’t talk too much. British audiences come to hear you sing, they don’t want to hear you talk.
“In the U.S. it’s different. You can talk to them for a while between numbers without losing their attention. Here in Britain if you say more than a few sentences to them, they have lost you, they get restless for the next number.
“I think I prefer British audiences to American. Although I was warned when I first came over here that they were tough. I haven’t found that. They are keen and receptive.
“I was told that Liverpool was the hardest town to play. They wanted more than their money’s worth. I haven’t found that. I was also told that the dance hall dates could be tough because of rowdiness. I have never found that.
“If there is any trouble among the teenagers then it is usually just due to over exuberance.
“I remember on the last tour I visited a very plush ballroom in Motherwell, Scotland. It was a beautiful place with flowers all round the stage in pots. I asked the manager to move them away so the fans could get nearer to me, as I was sure from experience that they want to.
“He said it wasn’t necessary. I told him that he was risking his beautiful flowers. We never get any trouble here, he said. The next time I saw that manager he was screaming for the kids to get off his flowers and sweat was breaking out on his brow!
“But this wasn’t rowdiness-just enthusiasm. You can’t blame any audience for being enthusiastic.”
(quoted in full)