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EUGENE VINCENT CRADDOCK aKa GENE VINCENT - Feb. 11, 1935 to Oct.12 1971  Gene Vincent only had one really big hit, 'Be-Bop-a-Lula', which epitomized Rockabilly at its prime in 1956 with its sharp guitar breaks, spare snare drums, fluttering echo, and Vincent's breathless, sexy vocals. Yet his place as one of the great early Rock n' Roll singers is secure, backed up by a wealth of fine smaller hits and non-hits that rate among the best rockabilly of all time. The leather-clad, limping, greasy-haired singer was also one of the first of Rock n' Roll's bad boys, lionized by romanticists of past and present generations attracted to primitive, sometimes savage style and indomitable Rockabilly spirit. Vincent was bucking the odds by entering professional music in the first place. As a 20-year-old in the Navy, he suffered a severe motorcycle accident.

This almost resulted in the full amputation of his leg. After the accident he began building a musical career, playing with Country bands in the clubs, honky tonks and dancehalls around the Norfolk, Virginia area. Demos cut at a local radio station, fronting a band assembled around Gene by his management, landed Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps a contract at Capitol, which hoped they'd found competition for Elvis Presley. The Blue Caps were one of the greatest Rock bands of the '50s, anchored at first by the stunning silvery, faster-than-light guitar leads of Cliff Gallup. The slap-back echo of 'Be-Bop-a-Lula', combined with Gene's swooping vocals, led many to mistake the singer for Elvis when the record first hit the airwaves in mid-1956, on its way to the Top 10. Brilliant follow-ups like 'Race With the Devil', 'Bluejean Bop', and 'B-I-Bickey, Bi, Bo-Bo-Go' failed to click, although these too are emblematic of Rockabilly at its most exuberant and powerful. By the end of 1956, The Blue Caps were beginning to undergo the first of constant personnel changes that would continue throughout the '50s, the most crucial loss being the departure of Gallup. The 35 or so tracks he cut with the band, many of which showed up only on albums or b-sides, were unquestionably Vincent's greatest work. Vincent had his second and final Top 20 hit in 1957 with 'Lotta Lovin', which reflected his increasingly tamer approach to production and vocals. He recorded often for Capitol throughout the rest of the '50s, they were respectable, occasionally exciting Rockabilly. He was captured for posterity in of the first Hollywood films to feature Rock n' Roll stars, 'The Girl Can't Help It', which also included Little Richard and Eddie Cochran. A 1960 tour of Britain brought tragedy when Eddie Cochran, who shared the bill on Vincent's U.K. shows, died in a car accident that he was also involved in, though Vincent survived. Gene Vincent died at the age of 36, one of Rock's first mythic figures.  MP3 - BeBop-a-Lula | 'God bless Gene.'

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