After an 8 month
run, “Oh Boy!” was superceded by a new Jack Good TV pop extravaganza
called “Boy Meets Girl”. At Good’s behest, the search for American
acts continued. Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and Ronnie Hawkins
would be available towards the end of 1959 and in October it was
confirmed that Vincent had been booked to appear on “Boy Meets Girl”
sometime in December.
Vincent was quite
unprepared for the impressive reception which awaited him and in
effect, his arrival at Heathrow Airport on December 5, 1959 had all
the comic overtones of a blind date. Capitol had gone to some
lengths to take commercial advantage of the impending visit. In an
early attempt of “pop hype”, they had even sponsored the formation of a
nominal fan club to bolster interest in their star and on the
morning of Vincent’s arrival, a coach load of fans was driven to
Heathrow Airport at EMI’s expense.
presented Jack Good with his greatest challenge yet. Handicapped by
a marked limp, a braggy countenance replete with bad teeth and
unruly hair, Vincent was the antithesis of the 50’s pop stereotype.
As nothing could be done to disguise these imperfections, Good
decided to exaggerate them by persuading Vincent to discard his
homely woolen sweaters in favor of a creaky leather suit complete
with gauntlets and topped off with a large silver medallion.
12 day tour proved so successful that fresh bookings were quickly
arranged announcing “The Gene Vincent Show”, an 11 week nationwide
tour in which Gene would co-star with Eddie Cochran who was coming
to Britain for Jack Good on January 10. Cochran had recently
completed a tour of the American Mid-West and managed to squeeze in
a recording session at Goldstar Studio on the eve of his visit,
which produced three titles: “Cut Across Shorty”, “Cherished
Memories” and “Three Steps to Heaven”.
Cochran flew into
London on Sunday January 10th, and was given an official
reception at the Albert Embankment headquarters of Decca Records on
the 11th. While Vincent continued his concert schedule,
Cochran was in Manchester rehearsing for two appearances on “Boy
Meets Girl” which were transmitted on January 16th and 23rd.
Cochran and Vincent played their first show together at the Gaumont,
Ipswitch on January 24th before taking a three day break
to rehearse with their British backing group, The Wildcats, on loan
from Marty Wilde.
Now, the big
moment had arrived. “And now … direct from the U.S.A., the recorder
of “C’mon Everybody” and “Summertime Blues”, the great EDDIE
A wall of sound
greeted the opening of the curtain and then came the familiar
driving opening of “Something Else”. Wearing a white shirt with
grey leather jeans, the star was playing a light brown guitar. With
the Wildcats providing a driving backing, he rocked through
“Something Else”, “Hallelujah”, “Sweet Little Sixteen”, What’d I
say”, “Fever” and “C’mon Everybody”.
His Singing was
strong, gritty and powerful, just like the records: his guitar
playing superb, flowing through his arms into his guitar. His
fingers seemed to glide over the instrument. As he sang and played,
he was up on his toes, all the while playing the most driving rock
imaginable. Throughout his act, there was a pandemonium, screaming
and cheering with the audience on their feet from start to finish.
An unforgettable tour-de-force by this incredible artist. Peter
Hippodrome, April 1st, 1960.
Vincent were seen together on “Boy Meets Girl” on February 20th.
The following day at the annual NME Poll winners Concert at the
Empire Pool, Wembly. The month closed with a second appearance on
“Boy Meets Girl” followed by a series of one week engagements in
Leeds, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle and Manchester which took
them into early April.
“Eddie and I were
as close as two guys can get without being queer” Vincent once
revealed, adding that the few short weeks spent touring with Cochran
were probably the happiest of his life. Not since the heady days of
1957 had he enjoyed such acclaim and the money that went with it.
On a personal level, the self-doubt which loomed large in the
Vincent psyche was offset by the reassuring presence of Cochran who
Gene regarded as his fraternal alter-ego. If Vincent’s pained
rough-hewn looks set him apart from the mainstream, Cochran’s
stocky, well-scrubbed demeanor symbolized the pop idol of the time;
and whereas Vincent was hesitant and fey in his dealing with the
media, never uttering more than a few barely audible words, Cochran
spoke with a relaxed, eloquent manner which came over well in
interviews. He was brighter and more musicianly than Vincent who
worked strictly by ear, and was held in high regard not only by
Gene, but all musicians who came into contact with him. For his
part, Cochran looked on Gene as a drinking buddy whose disregard for
the conventional mores of showbiz distinguished him from the dozens
of ingratiating showbiz types Cochran normally met in his travels.
ground-breaking tour took place during a transitory period in
British pop music. As the rock n’ roll era drew to a close hits
such as “Save The Last Dance For Me” signaled the arrival of more
sophisticated production techniques and the emergence of A&R men and
arrangers as the inspirational force behind pop music. This kind of
recorded chicanery did not translate at all well to the live stage
and Cochran and Vincent came as revelation to British audiences to
whom they were the keepers of the sacred flame of rock n’ roll.
success of the tour prompted arrangement of further concerts with an
almost indecent haste although allowances had to be made for
Cochran’s American commitments; he was scheduled to the States on
Sunday, April 17th for recording sessions.