Though he landed his contract
with Capitol Records by winning an Elvis Presley sound-alike contest,
Gene Vincent quickly established himself as one of the most distinctive and uninhibited of Fifties rockers.
Born Vincent Eugene Craddock, he grew up in the Navy town of Norfolk, Virginia and served in Navy
during the Korean war. He was injured in a motorcyle accident while in the Navy and wore a leg brace
for the remainder of his life. He was awarded a recording contract by Capitol in 1956 based on his
demo tape of "Be-Bop-a-Lula," a simmering rocker drenched in echo and reverb. Cowritten by Vincent,
"Be-Bop-a-Lula" rose to #7 and endures to this day as a rockabilly classic.
Vincent was backed by
the Blue Caps, whose original lineup consisted of lead guitarist Cliff
rhythm guitarist Willie Williams, bassist Jack Neal and drummer Dickie Harrell. Capitol released six
albums by Vincent between 1957 and 1960. Vincent also appeared in rock and roll films, notably The
Girl Can't Help It (1956).
He was seriously hurt
in the same car accident that killed Eddie Cochran in England on April
Vincent recorded intermittently in the Sixties while remaining an in-demand live performer. He died in
1971 of a bleeding ulcer. He was 36 years old.
Gene Vincent Lyrics