Glossary entry for
Vincent, Gene

Van's song "The Street Only Knew Your Name" references two Gene Vincent songs: "Be-Bop-A-Lula", and "Who Slapped John?", both released in 1956.

Vincent Eugene Craddock was born in 1935 in Norfolk, Virginia. Vincent began playing the guitar at an early age. Hearing the Grand Ole Opry on the radio and gospel music of the local black churches; he played with neighborhood black musicians on the porch of his parents' country store.

In May, 1955 Vincent was in a motorcycle accident that shattered his left shinbone. The injury would never heal properly and he spent the rest of the year in a brace. While in hospital Vincent wiled away the hours playing the guitar. It was here that he paid a patient twenty five dollars for a song he had written, "Be-Bop-A-Lula", that was about a local stripper. Recorded in 1956 for Capitol Records, the song became Gene Vincent & The Blue Caps biggest hit.

Gene's famous leather suits came about in the U.K.. Television producer Jack Good, who had a flair for the dramatic and mixed rock 'n' roll up with Shakespeare, thought Gene would look more menacing in leather and chains. The leather would become a trademark of Gene's performances throughout the 60's.

Gene Vincent passed away on October 12th, 1971 from a bleeding ulcer. In the years just prior to his death he had recorded some fine country music LP's and toured extensively in the U.K. and Europe.

When he passed away he left behind four wives and a legion of dedicated fans. With the renewed interest in real rockin' music in the seventies Gene Vincent became an icon to a new generation of rockers. Gene Vincent has had more tribute records made about him than any other rocker except Elvis proving that his influence and legend are greater than can be measured by looking at chart placement.

His tough attitude, menacing looks and black leather street cred were just part of the attraction. In the end it was more than just image that attracts a growing legion of fans. The voice of Gene Vincent haunts the mind of those who can't get enough of his music.

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