Gene Vincent should’ve been around to turn 81 today, but this film gives you an indication of how unlikely that would’ve been. He was burning at both ends and swinging for the fences perpetually, and eventually, as it does, the Rock & Roll life wiped him out. Gene was the first in black leather and never had to make a comeback because he never left. The world moved. He did not.
Even so, Gene Vincent was a survivor if there ever was one. When Elvis got drafted, Chuck Berry went to prison, Little Richard got religion, Jerry Lee Lewis embraced the country music fans who would forgive his transgressions with Carl Perkins not too far behind, Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran were killed (with Gene in the car at the time), when radio got taken over by teen idols and singing groups and stars created entirely by record producers, Gene Vincent never stopped swinging. To the masses, he was a one hit wonder. The fact was, he had many, many better songs.
Forgotten and marginalized in America, Gene was the Rock & Roll King of England, playing sets that felt like watching an underground bare knuckle boxing match. One of the The Beatles’ first big breaks was getting to perform on the same bill as him, and their early leather suits were patterned after Gene’s. They also covered one of his later songs that nobody in America heard.
His back catalog goes in and out of print, but our Teutonic friends at Bear Family Records have brought us a huge, complete box set as only they can. Get it while it’s still around…