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GENE VINCENT Victim of a cruel and contemptible hoax

(Hit Parade)
(August 1960)

GENE VINCENT
Victim of a cruel and contemptible hoax

…Nobody in the audience of Nottingham’s Theatre Royal will forget the night Gene walked to the front of the stage and announced “My daughter has died of pneumonia.”

Probably Gene won’t, for to his horror the audience laughed at the announcement - until they realised that he had referred to his daughter, and not (as they thought) to his dog.

With tears streaming down his face he told the hushed audience about Melody - and when the true impact of her death had sunk home, some of the audience cried, too…

It is not generally known that Gene had to be persuaded by those closest to him, to fly back to the U.S. after the telegram.

Always a firm believer that “the show must go on,” he was reluctant to let anybody down…

“I have not had a proper rest in months”, he whispered just before the curtain rang down on his last show. “I must be left entirely alone, and the I can relax completely, and think about things”…

A few days later, the news that Melody was not dead swept the country. A lot was written about Gene’s state of mind, and many critics said that as far as Britain was concerned, he would never be able to return - as if he had known all the time that the telegram was a hoax…

A HIT PARADE round-up of views has shown that Gene has not lost any popularity in having to cancel dates and cause disappointment…

It would seem, that Gene’s fans are quite prepared to listen to what he has to say about the unfortunate affair of recent weeks - but no one is going to hold anything against him. Whatever the truth, Gene to many people is a king of rock ‘n’ roll, and no nasty rumours or stories will remove him from that throne.

DEATH HOAX

(Probably a national newspaper)

‘DEATH HOAX’
Says rock star Gene Vincent

A HOAX telegram sent American rock star Gene Vincent home to America from Britain, he revealed yesterday.

Earlier this month, Gene announced from the stage of a Nottingham theatre that his eighteen-month-old daughter Melody, had died of pneumonia.

Gene, who said he had had a telegram containing the news, left Britain a few days later.

He did so after asking to be freed from a variety tour and Blackpool season contract.

But Melody is alive and last night she was playing happily at the Vincent home in Vancouver, Washington.

And in Hollywood, Gene’s manager “Norm” Riley said: “This is really a tragic story and I hope the good people in England will understand.

“I spoke to Gene’s wife yesterday and she says she certainly didn’t send a telegram.

“Remember, this poor boy was in a terrible accident when his best friend, singer Eddie Cochran, was killed. That was on April 17.

‘Concussion’
“He had a broken shoulder and possible brain concussion, but he walked out of the hospital after two days.”

Gene told a reporter: “I’m trying to find out who sent the telegram. My wife’s name was on it, but she swears she didn’t send it.

“Melody is in fine condition and was never ill.” He added that he was prepared to return to England to continue his tour.

In London Larry Parnes, Gene’s British manager, has said that the matter is in the hands of lawyers.

BRITAIN HOLDS NO JINX FOR ME - IT’S A GRAND PLACE

(New Musical Express)

BRITAIN HOLDS NO JINX FOR ME - IT’S A GRAND PLACE
Says GENE VINCENT just before he left for America

GENE VINCENT’S British visit ended on Sunday when a limp figure, head bowed, walked slowly across the tarmac at London Airport to the plane waiting to fly him back to America. Death and illness have dogged Vincent while he was here, but of course, he holds no bitter feelings against Britain because of it.

Gene told me last Saturday, just a few hours before the curtain at Nottingham Theatre Royal rang down on what could be his last-ever professional appearance.

“I’ve had a rough time since Christmas, but I don’t blame anyone for that,” he whispered, tired and unwell after the flurry of making arrangements to fly back to the States next day. “I have never really felt fit myself, but to cap that, my wife has been ill, and I’ve lost, first me best friend, then my baby daughter within two months of each other.”

Since the death of Gene’s staunch companion, Eddie Cochran, on Easter Sunday, there has been little rest for Gene. The injuries he received in the crash which killed Cochran have never had a proper opportunity to mend. Personal worries, too, have been slowly tormenting Gene’s peace of mind, coming to a crashing climax last week, when he heard his eighteen-month-old daughter, Melody, had died.

“No, I don’t believe Britain holds a jinx for me,” he said in answer to my question. “It’s a grand place. Audiences have been very kind to me.”

What does the future hold for Gene now? “I’m going to have a long rest,” he said, “and no-one will disturb me, I want a holiday far away from everything that ever remind me of the happenings of the past few months. For the first time in months, I shall be with my wife.”

He added: “After that I really don’t know what will happen. I think I shall give a lot of thought to retiring to become a farmer. I have always been interested in that and I did a lot of it just before my visit to Britain. But it will be some time before I finally decide.”

But though Gene has struggled with his own illness, caused through exhaustion and worry, his fans never knew it. On stage he gave a fantastic performance, so alive and full of energy that few people suspected what he was really going through. It was Gene’s policy to forget personal affairs once on the stage. Lately that became harder and harder, until he felt he could no longer carry on.

The sympathy of almost every follower of Gene and Eddie Cochran went out to Gene when he lost his best friend in that fateful car accident. Hundreds of letters proved it. After a short break, he was back on stage again, just a few days after the accident.

I was one of the people who marvelled at Gene’s amazing energy when he took the stage shaking, capering and jiving in such a manner that it was a wonder his injuries did not give him more trouble than they did!
Ambitions

It was shortly after Eddie Cochran’s death that I asked Gene his personal show business ambitions and he replied: “I would like to become a better performer. I am not yet satisfied with myself and I would like to feel that I could sing rock ‘n’ roll a whole lot better than I do right now.”

To questioners, Gene would always deny he was married, and in answer to the inevitable follow-up: “Are you likely to be soon?! he would laugh it off.

But it took Cochran’s death and Vincent’s shattered bones to reveal that he WAS married. When I asked him on Saturday night why he would never admit he had a wife, he replied: “It was just something that started out with a denial and got bigger.

“I don’t want anyone to think I am not in love with my wife - for I am. She means the world to me. The loss of our baby was a terrible thing for both of us. Now we are grateful we have each other.”

Apart from “Be-Bop-A-Lula,” Gene had, by comparison with his popularity, little chart success. His most recent waxings, “Wild Cat” and “My Heart” made brief appearances in the Top Thirty, but his biggest hit for a long time looks like being his current “Pistol Packin’ Momma,” which, on the third week of release, and it second in the charts, has climbed higher.

“Seeing my name in the charts has always been a thrill to me,” he said. “Another hit was something I needed - not financially so much as morally. It has boosted me up no end. I’m only sorry I have had to cancel variety dates and a summer season in Blackpool.

Then, as if a cloud had been cast over him, Gene’s voice went back to a whisper as he stated: “I hope nobody thinks I have let them down by going back to America.

“I want everyone to understand that it was the best thing I could do under the circumstances. believe me, I wanted to finish those variety dates at Liverpool, Birmingham and Cardiff and then move in on Blackpool Queen’s.”

But believe me, Gene has gone back to the States with lasting impressions of Britain and the British way of life…

On a happier note, he spoke of his most embarrassing moment while he was over here.

“It was when I was doing my first British TV show,” he said. “We were filming it for the next Saturday’s transmission. Well, we’d decided on my number, everything was set, the compere announced it, and the cameras turned on me - and I burst into the wrong song! Gee, I’ve never felt so bad about anything.”

I guess they just felt sorry for me

(DISC)
(25 June 1960)

Rock star has had to cut short his British tour - but before he left he gave this interview to DISC reporter Richard Adams

FIRST IT WAS THE EDDIE COCHRAN TRAGEDY, THEN CAME THE DEATH OF HIS DAUGHTER, MELODY, BUT HIS FANS UNDERSTOOD…

I Guess they just felt sorry for me

With most singers, their voice and face are their fortune. With Gene Vincent it’s the same, only the reasons for the fortune are different.

It’s not the girls who go for that face, it’s the boys. And take a look at that face, a close look. It’s pinched, tired and lined as if he has all the worries in the world.

But it’s his fortune.

“Only about 40 per cent, of my fans are girls,” reveals Gene in a voice so quiet that it’s barely audible. “But it’s better this way. I don’t get all that screaming, and I don’t make the boys jealous.”

That is a long sentence for Gene. He’s moody, quiet, appears to be shy and is quite happy to let someone else do the talking for him. He registers no change of expression when his name is mentioned and rarely smiles.

There’s a slight trace of a grin however, when the subject of his face come up. But he doesn’t say much about it. “No, I guess it isn’t very beautiful, but I wouldn’t change it.”

Says his road manager, “The fans all look upon Gene as being one of them. They turn up at the stage door sometimes in their hundreds all wearing black leather outfits the same as Gene wears on stage.

“They crack jokes with him, asking where he’s left his motor bike, and all seem to like him. Not once have we had any rowdyism or trouble.

THE ‘TOUGHS’ HAVE CHANGED

“Sometimes they have even helped us to clear a way for Gene to get to the car. And these are the real toughs who usually make trouble for other stars.”

When his friend Eddie Cochran was killed in that tragic car crash last April, Gene suffered a great personal loss.

He felt incredibly lonely, and his loneliness made him feel even more homesick.

Then came the news about his daughter and his hurried return home. Gene Vincent certainly has had it hard.

But though Eddie’s death first brought on this loneliness it also helped in one small way to make life a little easier. With Gene’s consent his road manager says: “Ever since Eddie’s death the fans have been far more considerate to Gene.

“At one time when Eddie and Gene were touring together there used to be massive crowds outside the stage door who just wouldn’t let either of them through. Now the same crowds are there, but they’re far more considerate to Gene. They seem to sense that he has lost a friend and try to help him.”

Says Gene: “I guess they feel sorry for me.”

He seems to be miles away as he says this, but no more sad than he usually looks. I ask his manager how he tells whether Gene is sad or not. I’m told: “It takes a long time and you have to know him very well before you can tell…”

The one thing which Gene shows any real enthusiasm for is his new record “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” arranged for him by Eddie just before he died, and “Weeping Willow.”

He plays me the disc and asks whether I like it or not. I say I do.

But I couldn’t tell whether my comment made him happy or not.

It would have done, I think, if it hadn’t been for those tragedies.

MY CHILD’S DIED, SAYS ROCK STAR

(Probably national newspaper)

Gene Vincent, the American rock ‘n’ roll star, revealed last night that his 18-month-old daughter has died from pneumonia.

Tears streamed down his face as he tried to tell the audience of her death during a show called “Tribute to Eddie Cochran” at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal.

Vincent was injured in the car crash in which Eddie, his best friend, was killed last April.

On doctor’s orders he quits the show on Saturday. The next day he will fly to his wife in America.

GENE VINCENT SINGS EDDIE’S FAVOURITE

(New Musical Express)
(probably May )

Gene Vincent paid tribute to his close buddy, the late Eddie Cochran, when he resumed his long tour of Britain at the Lewisham Gaumont, on Sunday, following his brief holiday in the States.

“I want to sing for you now,” he announced, rubbing his left shoulder softly, the collar bone of which was injured during the fatal car crash recently, “Eddie’s favourite song.”

He then broke into a sad, falsetto-voiced, jerky version of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. Girls in the audience cried and moaned during it.

But that over, Gene, in a new tartan outfit, was on the rock-a-beat trail again with “Be Bop A Lula.” Despite a crocked leg and shoulder, he displayed more life and action than his able-bodied co-artists, and he gets more from his instrumental group (Colin Green and Beat Boys) by being one of them.

No standing in front of them to sing. He mingles right in among them and gives them generous solos, egging them on to greater heights of abandon.

Yes, Gene is a great performer who makes others work for him - including the audience.

Gene Vincent

(Early 1960 )

Real Name : Gene Vincent Craddock.
Birthday : 11th February, 1937.
Birthplace : Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.A.
Hair : Dark Brown.
Eyes : Brown.
Height : 5 ft 10 in.
Weight : 158 lb.
Favourite sport : Football.
Favourite male singer : Brook Benton.
Favourite female singer : Connie Francis.
Favourite actor : The late James Dean.
Favourite food : Steak.
Favourite drink : Coffee.
Favourite guitarist : Eddie Cochran.
Lucky charm : A medallion.
Favourite clothes : Casual.
Instruments played : Guitar and piano.
Biggest thrill : Appearing for the first time on The Perry Como Show.

THE CONTROVERSIAL SERIES WRITTEN BY STARS

(DISC)
(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.

GENE VINCENT and EDDIE COCHRAN rave about the same girl!

(Early ‘60)

KEITH GOODWIN meets two gallant travellers

EDDIE COCHRAN and Gene Vincent, America’s semi-permanent representatives on the British pop music scene, are feeling pleased with themselves. And well they might ! Gene has just got over an attack of pneumonia, while Eddie is still recovering from an irritating bout of insomnia !

“It’s been pretty tough these last few weeks,” Eddie ventured, when I called on the likeable pair at their London flat earlier this week.

“But everybody’s been real good to us, and that’s how we got on our feet again so quickly,” Gene added.

Music is the dominating factor in the lives of these young stars, so it was inevitable that the record player should be going full blast when I knocked on the door. And I’d hardly settled myself in a chair before they were singing the praises of hit parade newcomer Brenda Lee.

In between spins of “Sweet Nuthin’s,” husky voiced Gene said enthusiastically: “What a voice ! It’s unbelievable for someone so young !”

Then Eddie joined in: “Listen to that drive-isn’t she great ?” Are Gene and Eddie fans of this curly-headed, 15-year-old bundle of dynamite ? “You bet,” they chorused !

On Sunday, the rocking twosome return to America for a 10-day holiday. Then it’s back to Britain for more one-night-stands and a summer season show at Blackpool. Gene was rather non-committal about his trip to the States. “I’ve got some business to attend to,” was his simple explanation.

Eddie, on the other hand, was more explicit. “Well, I have some TV shows and stage dates lined up. Also, I have to attend talks for a film which I’ll be making later in the year. This is very important to me, since it’ll be my first dramatic acting r^ le,” he said.

I was eager to learn how the boys had enjoyed the first half of their British tour. And in between lengthy discussions on the merits of Ray Charles, Brenda Lee, Josh White and other American stars, I fired the questions in a three way conversation.
Beat stars

Keith: What do you think of British big-beat artists ?”

Eddie: Well, there’s no denying you have some very, very good singers here. But if you’d seen as many rock ‘n’ roll singers as we have, then you’d appreciate that it’s very seldom we get really knocked out by an artist.

Keith: Were you impressed by anyone in particular ?

Gene: Yes, Wee Willie Harris. He’s real good. I liked him a lot. You see, he’s different from the others, and we have nothing like him in the States. I certainly got a kick out of Willie. And Joe Brown-he’s great, too.

Eddie: Yes, Joe is fine. A good singer and instrumentalist, and very funny. I’m certain he would go down great in America. I also enjoyed Vince Eager. He’s an exciting artist.

Keith: How did you find British audiences ?

Eddie: They were real good to us. But, I don’t think they’re quite as demonstrative as in the States. Over there, they often go nuts even when you’re just announcing a number. But in Britain, they’re somewhat more reserved and polite.
Liked rock

Gene: I found that they went more for my wild rock songs than my ballads. But on the whole, they weren’t too different from American audiences. They scream a lot and clap and get excited just like Americans. I guess audiences are pretty much the same the world over.

Keith: What did you think of the fans you met ?

Gene: I loved them. They’re very devoted and very friendly, and it was a pleasure to meet them. But so many of them just don’t look like teenagers. They seem so grown up in the way they dress and act.

Eddie: I love them, too. Their loyalty is amazing at times. For instance, we saw the same fans at theatres all over the country. They must have travelled miles to see us.

Keith: Did they ask for souvenirs ?

Gene: Well, yes. But most of them are happy just to shake your hand and have a little chat with you. I liked that. Mind you, I gave away quite a lot of souvenirs. American dimes (small silver coins) seem to be the favourite with the fans.

Eddie: And guitar picks-I’ve handed out a whole stack of the. Shirts, too. Now and again, a fan asks for one of my shirts as a keepsake, and I don’t like to say no. Also, on an average, we signed between 200 and 300 autographs each week.

Keith: How about working conditions in Britain ?

Eddie: Right off, I must tell you that I’ve been far more tired here than in the States. Why ? probably because we’ve had so little time to relax. People are always calling on us between shows (not that I’m complaining about that) and when we’re not working, we’re travelling.
Trains bad

Gene: Travelling, I would say, presents the biggest problem of all. Most of our journeys are by train. Now I don’t want to offend anybody, but I must say I don’t like British trains. They’re not comfortable, there’s no way to relax; travelling just becomes boring and sometimes unbearable.

Keith: What about theatres ?

Gene: Fine ! No complaints there. We’ve played some good places and have always been treated very well.

Eddie: I agree with Gene on this point. But I would say that I prefer doing one-night stands as opposed to whole weeks at one theatre. It’s just that I like a change.

Keith: What do you think of Britain as a country ?

Gene: Are you joking ? So much of our time has been taken up travelling that we really haven’t had time to see the country ! But seriously, I like it here, and would like to spend a lot more time in Britain in the future. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Eddie: More than anything else I enjoyed the people-they’re real nice and they’ve made us feel at home. On the other hand, I’m not crazy about your food. I miss home cooking a lot, and right now, I’m so homesick that I feel I just have to get back to the States for a few days.

Keith: Anything you particularly want to do when you get back here ?

Gene: Yes, there sure is. I’d like to do more TV shows with Jack Good. He’s the greatest guy I ever knew and he produces the best beat show of all. There’s nothing to compare with Jack’s show in the States.

Eddie: Me, too. I’d like to do some more programmes with Jack. He’s such a brilliant guy-frank and honest and enthusiastic. That’s why he’s such a good producer.

And that’s how it ended. Gene, his face covered with shaving cream, and Eddie, sporting dark glasses as he faced a sun-ray lamp, were still talking about Jack Good, and the record player was spinning once again as I left.

A nice couple of fellows-quiet, polite, unspoiled and as devoted to their fans as they are to them !

( quoted in full)

Sickness strikes, but they’re real troupers

(DISC)
(9 April 1960)

JACK GOOD takes a look at the Vincent/Cochran Package

It is often assumed that the race of dedicated troupers in the theatre is a dying one, and that the new generation of rock ‘n’ roll singers have no respect for the traditions of the stage. Nobody who knows the backstage story of the Vincent/Cochran package show could accept this. I have never known such a loyalty to the maxim that “the show must go on”.

I arrived in Manchester on Saturday afternoon and visited Gene and Eddie, hearing they were unwell. I found them both in bed. Gene had not recovered from an attack of pneumonia followed by pleurisy. Eddie was suffering from insomnia, and terribly strained eyes.

Looking at them, I found it hard to believe that they would be able to do their two shows that evening.

Sick Parade
The programme read like a sick parade. I did not enjoy the prospect of seeing the show . I was wrong. They were superb.

Eddie Cochran was amazing. Far from showing signs of strain, he seemed even more dynamic than I have ever seen him. And how he used those blood-shot eyes. For the first twelve bars of his act he crouched with his back to the audience, while the Wildcats - greatly improved - whipped up a storm. Then on the first words of “What’d I Say”, Eddie swung round to face his audience and there was a gasp. He was wearing light tan leather trousers, a turquoise shirt and a shining silver waistcoat.

But the gasp was because he was wearing dark glasses! And it looked fabulous and outrageous. And what a great play he made out of taking them off after his opening song. This beat everything for turning a disadvantage into an advantage.

Knocked out
Making the greatest use of his rocks-and-gravel voice, Cochran is the toughest, ruggedest exponent of rock. How he makes the music swing. He punches it over like a singing Rocky Marciano, and the whole audience was knocked out.

Then at last came Gene Vincent. Pain-wracked as he was, both from his chest, and his leg, for the umteenth time in plaster through his iron brace breaking, Gene drove himself and his audience unmercifully.

Dressed in black from top to toe, Gene is like a demon possessed by the beat. His face pours with sweat, his face is contorted to an agonised smile, his huge eyes staring at a vision only he can see. Vincent is the most extraordinary eccentric and terrifying spectacle on the stage today.

The volume of the screams, together with that of the band, drowned Gene’s voice, which is - the final contradiction, in this mass of contradictions - a soft, fluid and beautiful instrument.

But it didn’t matter. To watch him was enough…and knowing how ill he was, for me it was too much.

( quoted in full)