Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Gene Vincent Is The Screaming End!!!

There are so many different reasons to love Gene Vincent. Number one of course is the music- that amazing voice, the "sad Virginia whisper", the countless rocking songs and the always energetic performances that at times seem to be touched by the Holy Spirit. The ever changing, but more often than not, hot shit accompaniment from cats like Cliff Gallup and Johnny Meeks. The hoodlum appeal of his clapper boys (Paul Peek and Tommy Facenda), Gene's wild eyes cast upwards as he sang to some hopeful transcendent heaven beyond pain and drummer Dickie Harrell's unbridled scream on Be- Bop-A-Lula and on and on. This is the American culture that makes me proud!

But it's undeniable that the full appeal of his music is informed and shaped by his back story - the chronic pain due to a leg injury from a motorcycle accident that he suffered through for his short life (dead at 36) and which forced him to seek solace in pain killers and alcohol and his deepening depression and guilt after surviving the car crash that killed his close friend Eddie Cochran (just 21) in 1960.  Mick Farren's short and well written book Gene Vincent There's One In Every Town is a good starting point for grasping the mythology and ongoing influence of Gene Vincent and has a nice discography and run down of session dates. And the Town Hall Party DVD is essential viewing for Gene in his prime. After that you can move on to the more detailed, though not as exciting prose of books like Race With the Devil and Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran Rock n' Roll Revolutionaries.

Skinny white sailor,
The chances were slender
The beauties were brief
Shall I mourn your decline,
With some thunderbird wine
And a black hankerchief?
I miss your sad Virginia whisper
I miss the voice that called my heart

Sweet Gene Vincent,
Young and old and gone...
Sweet Gene Vincent

Who, who, who slapped John?

White face; black shirt;
White socks; black shoes;
Black hair; white strat;
Bled white; died black!

Sweet Gene Vincent
Let the Blue Caps roll tonight
At the soc. hop ball in the union hall
Where The Bop is their delight

Here comes duck-tailed Danny dragging Uncanny Annie
- she's the one with the flying feet.
You can break the peace daddy, sickle grease
The beat is reet complete
And the jump back honey in the dungarees
Tight sweater and a pony tail
Will you guess her age when she comes backstage?
The hoodlums bite their nails.

Black gloves, white frost
Black crepe, white lead
White sheet, black knight
Jet black, dead white

Sweet Gene Vincent.
There's one in every town;
And the devil drives 'til the hearse arrives
And you lay that pistol down.

Sweet Gene Vincent:
There's nowhere left to hide.
With lazy skin and ashtray eyes
A perforated pride.

So farewell mademoiselle, knickerbocker hotel
Say goodbye to money owed.
But when your leg still hurts and you need more shirts
You gotta get back on the road.

Sweet Gene Vincent!
Sweet Gene Vincent!
Sweet Gene Vincent!
Sweet Gene Vincent!

When your leg still hurts and you need more shirts
You gotta get back on the road.

Eddie & Gene
The Beatles contemplate the ritual sacrifice of Gene

Gene anticipated Jim Morrison's theatrics by a good decade, fitting that in the late 60's they became drinking buddies.


  1. My favourite Gene Vincent story is from I think 1968 in a hotel in Germany when he tried to shoot Gary Glitter (then known as Paul Raven). Its almost as if Gene could see into the future !

  2. Ha! Good story, hadn't heard that one, thanks.