GENE VINCENT IS YOUR MAN
Unlike some American performers, Gene Vincent is always welcomed back to this country with his legions of fans flocking to his stage and dance hall dates, expressing a loyalty rarely witnessed towards an artist whose discs do not have a great deal of chart success.
But perhaps one of the reasons Gene’s fans stay loyal, is because he keeps his own allegiance to them…by making sure of a high standard of singing and recording, and keeping well in touch with British followers.
Gene came to the top in the rock era, with “Be Bop-A-Lula,” and although he later waxed numbers that were more distinct rock numbers, he has never strayed from the frantic, beaty type of song presentation that first gained him honours.
Few disc artists do this-many feel the need for a change of style before their fans are ready to accept them in another vocal sphere, and the result is often disastrous.
Many American artists who come to Britain after one, two, or even more hits, often find they cease to be so popular again because, in their stage act and subsequent recordings, they did not play up to the picture their fans wanted to remember.
But, in Gene’s case, fans are assured of an out-and-out session intermingled with blues.
No matter what his critics-and there are many-say, Gene is adamant: “Rock put me into the top bracket and that’s what I am going to continue to give my fans.”
Proof of the reason for Gene’s continued popularity is given by the membership of his British fan club…who were asked recently to send in their own list of favourite Gene Vincent recordings.
Top of the tree in a list compiled especially for “HIT PARADE” is “Be-Bop-A-Lula”.
Second is “Say Mama,” a fast-moving rock number that Gene nearly always features in his stage and radio appearances.
Third comes “Baby Blue,” where Gene is accompanied by a girl-and-four-boys singing group (unusual for him), and fourth comes “Rocky Road Blues.”
Fifth is “Bluejean Bop,” and sixth “My Heart.”
Other numbers voted into the Vincent Top Twenty include “Wild Cat,” “Over The Rainbow,” “Summertime,” “Frankie And Johnny,” “Lotta Lovin’,”, “Wedding Bells,” “Race With The Devil,” “I Got It,” “Git It,” “Little Lover, “Dance To The Bop,” “Anna-Annabelle” and “Mr. Loneliness.”
In the LP section, “Crazy Times” scored most heavily, with “Gene Vincent Rocks,” and “Gene Vincent Record Date” as runners-up. “Sounds Like Gene Vincent,” “Bluejean Bop,” and “Gene Vincent And The Blue Caps” follow closely behind.
A new Vincent single was issued by Capitol to coincide with his arrival at the end of April-and latest reports are that, following in the tradition of Gene’s discs, it is selling well. Taken from the “Crazy Times” album, the titles are “She, She Little Sheila,” and “Hot Dollar.”
Although Gene hasn’t had a chart entry since “Pistol Packin’ Momma,” his subsequent releases - “Accentuate The Positive” and “Jezebel” did well.
But in the recording field, Gene is hoping to wax as much new material as possible, since his disc company have been relying on the re-issue of oldies.
There is talk that Gene will again record while in Britain-a move which will be applauded by many.
He recorded “Pistol Packin’ Momma” (sic) here last year under Norrie Paramor’s direction and excited a great deal of interest.
Vincent’s close friend, Eddie Cochran, was responsible for the arrangement - you’ll recall he died in a road crash soon afterwards.
There’s talk of Gene settling in Britain for good now that he is so well established here.
His European manager, Don Arden, has been bogged down with inquiries about Gene’s availability for some time, and feels that Gene’s short visits to this country do not do justice to the amount of work awaiting him.
It is unlikely that a decision will be taken either way for a month or two, as a residency in Britain would mean Gene tearing up all his roots in the U.S. and almost starting a new life, although he is by no means a stranger here.
If he does decide to stay, it’s probable that he will use London as an operating base for most of the world, as there are many offers for him to tour abroad.
His highly successful visit to South Africa at the end of last month would also be repeated.
But the thousand-dollar question that many of Gene’s admirers keep asking is: “What’s happened to the Blue Caps?”
Those of you who know anything at all about the Vincent legend will recall that his backing group have never been seen in this country, except on films, as Musicians’ Union restrictions have proved an obstacle.
There were hopes that the Blue Caps would be able to make this current trip with Gene, but as a suitable group of the same size couldn’t go to America to make the musician “swap” complete plans fell through.
Perhaps the very near future will see Gene and his group blasting full force from our theatres-but it will need a near-miracle to bring the Blue Caps to these shores.