Elvis’s singing style has been cloned to death countless times even during the 1950s, but not so Gene Vincent who also had a distinct style (Gene Rambo and the Flames ‘my little mama’ in 1957). Gene’s heyday was 1956-64, mostly with the Bluecaps in the States then in England and France in the early 1960s. He died in 1971 . Gene Vincent is gone but his music keeps being resuscitated and lives on! We’ve collected some of the best captured performances since then (there are many more but the recording quality is sometimes lacking).
Doyen of the Gene Vincent tributors has to be Graham Fenton, who met the man himself and backed him with his band the Houseshakers. His performance of ‘over the rainbow’ on the popular weekly programme ‘Top of the Pops’ dates to 1981.
There are numerous clips of Graham performing Gene numbers, but the recording quality is not the best. Have a listen to his ‘Shades of Gene’ album from 1995.
The early Bluecaps with Dave Phillips singing (before the 1980 change of personnel and their development into a neo-rockabilly band) recreated the early Gene Vincent and Bluecaps look and music (highly recommended is their showcase album ‘The Bluecats’ of 1980) and were captured for posterity on ‘Jack Good’s Oh Boy!’ tv show (see here).
The Sprites from France active in 1983-86 recreated Gene Vincent and the early Bluecaps, listen to their ‘sunny side of the street’, a song Gene never recorded …
The Sprites’s bass player finally joined another French outfit which recreated the early Gene and Bluecaps, the Capitols. Here in 2008 they recreate Gene and the Bluecaps’s iconic scene from ‘The Girl can’t Help It’ only that they are performing ‘who slapped John?’:
Here they are in Béthune in 2009 performing ‘hold me, hug me, rock me’ :
Like Graham Fenton, Steve Aynsley was bowled over by Gene after seeing him and Eddie on their 1960 British tour and would in 1979 rekindle the lapsed Gene Vincent Fan Club (the first British Gene Vincent fan club ran from 1964-71) and help organise the first Blue Caps British tour in 1982 (the first of many in which they were fronted by Graham Fenton).
Steve also sometimes performed and in 1997 – backed here with the original Bluecaps – he came out with Gene Rambo’s ‘my little mama’ which referenced perfectly Gene of the Paul Peek Bluecaps period :
Here is ‘hard knocks’ (recorded by 2000), with Darrel Higham on guitar, where they perfectly capture the early Gene and the Bluecaps style :
Later in 2016 he brought out the tribute song ‘GéGéne’ (Gene’s traditional nickname among French-speaking fans) :
Finally we comme to Britain’s Cliff Edmonds peforming at Coco Loco in Marseille, France (Gene was just about the most popular rocker in France) :
Rock’n’roll goes on and on! There are plenty of other clips by these artists, have fun finding them on YouTube and Dailymotion.
POSTED June 2022.
VINCENT, GENE and OTHERS: A PIECE AT A TIME – TRIBUTE TO GENE (Rollercoaster Records)