Sunday, July 17, 2011


It has finally hit me. Gene Vincent was mortal. He's dead. I had long avoided any of his later material, in denial, as if the Blue Caps era Vincent was all that ever existed. Yesterday that all changed, and I'm still in mourning. I'm not kidding when I say that the one-two punch of a 1969 video and a 1970 song had me grieving. Not to say either were bad; in fact, they were both excellent. But they served as a shoulder shaker, as if to say "snap out of it, he's gone and this is how it ended." It was a sad night here on Bacon Street, but in a way long overdue. I have mourned the passing of one loved musician after another, but until last night, I'd never experienced a moment of solemnity for Gene Vincent.

Vintage Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps, from The Girl Can't Help It

The 1969 video (link below) is a 34 minute mini-documentary culled from four days of Vincent's final UK tour, just eighteen months before his death. The decline of interest in rockabilly in the hippie era had left him broke and struggling to remain relevant. There was no market for nostalgia (Sha Na Na had yet to break, American Graffiti was three years away, and the Stray Cats were still in grade school), a time when looking backwards was strictly for old farts and teddy boys. In the clip, Vincent is shown in some rather humbling circumstances, accentuated by his bum leg, from an injury in a motorcycle accident crash in 1955, and aggravated by another accident in 1960 (one that killed his best buddy Eddie Cochran). Just watch the clip (again, link below). If it doesn't make you want to go back in time and write him a check, you do not possess a rock n' roll heart.

Vincent in '69, screen grab from the BBC video below

There's a few of his earlier cuts down below, all essential. Let me repeat, essential. To read about Vincent, go to The Hound Blog for another one of the Hound's definitive profiles. And that later cut, the one that got me all weepy, is near the bottom, a cover of Mickey Newbury's "Sunshine." You want a tearjerker? Watch the BBC video below, and then listen to Vincent sing Newbury's lyrics, "All of my life it's been the same. I found a pot of gold, just a rusty chain. I dealt a winnin' hand in a losin' game, oh, I'm lookin' for the sunshine, livin' on the rain." Jeez, what can you say? I know. Long fucking live Gene Vincent.

Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps - Cat Man (1957) mp3 at Leave You Wanting Less
Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps - Cruisin' mp3 at The Hound Blog
Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps - Woman Love mp3 at The Hound Blog
Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps - Rollin' Danny mp3 at Beware of the Blog
Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps - Brand New Beat mp3 at The Hound Blog

Gene Vincent - Sunshine (1970) mp3 at The Rising Storm

Ian Dury & the Blockheads - Sweet Gene Vincent mp3 at The Rising Storm

Gene Vincent in the UK, 1969 - Live footage, rehearsals, and behind the scenes; at the BBC. NOTE: Scroll down to the third video, and read the text for context.

Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps - Profile with more mp3s at The Hound Blog
Gene Vincent at Wikipedia
Earlier Gene Vincent post:
Behold the Economic Solo
Other rockabilly related posts here

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