GENE VINCENT REMEMBERED
by RAY CAMPI
Written for the Gene Vincent tribute CD "Turning the World Blue," released
by Skizmatic Records, 1996. Used by permission of Ray Campi.
In 1958 it was with great pleasure that my band and myself got a booking on a show in Austin with three of the hottest rockabilly acts in Texas. These guys had already made a name for themselves in the music world and appeared regularly on the Big D Jamboree in Dallas. (I briefly appeared on this show in 1952; not a performance worth remembering, I might add.)
Sonny James had already made it big with "Young Love," Bob Luman was coming up fast also. I had met Sonny in 1952 at Dessau Hall when he was touring with Slim Whitman. Bob Luman and I ran into each other a year or so earlier at Austin station KVET in Bradford's Alley. Bob was promoting his first record on Imperial, but this was the first time I had the opportunity to meet the famous Gene Vincent.
At this time my band consisted of Henry Hill, John Maddox and my brother Harvey. We were part of the "local yokels," a name I used to describe the Austin bands (without big record deals) who sometimes got booked to open for the bigger, well-known acts that traveled through town while on tour. Other "locals" on this show were Joyce Webb, the Debs and the Slades, the originators of the great song "You Cheated." We were all recording for Domino Records at the time.
After we finished our bit on the show, which took place on an open stage on the south side of the Colorado River (the Zachery Scott Theater stands there today) on Lamar Boulevard, Bob Luman and his band played.
I believe Sonny followed with a group and both went over well with the crowd. Next, it was Gene's turn to "rock out," which he did quite effectively. His act included lots of body motions with the mike swaying from side to side, and ferocious screams being emitted from the Blue Caps at just the right places. I'm sure Johnny Meeks was in this group. Years later I would meet him again when he played "Lotta Lovin'" which I recorded for Rollin' Rock for Ronny Weiser in a tribute album to Gene. I'm happy to say that this track appears in this [Skizmatic] CD (history repeats itself).
After Gene's spectacular appearance, my buddies and myself went on stage to meet the man in person, and to have a talk while most of the musicians were packing up. He was very friendly with us and even showed us the leather brace on his leg, the result of a motorcycle accident injury. "Sometimes it hurts when I jump around," he commented, "but I wasn't about to let them cut this thing off." From watching Gene's performance I would have never guessed he was in pain.
I'm happy to have been able to meet Gene in 1958, and to perform on a show with him, as we had a lot in common. It is rewarding that Brad has included a couple of my recordings on this CD. It's great to be in good musical company with similar goals in mind, to preserve the memory and music of one of the world's greatest rock 'n' rollers, Gene Vincent.
BACK TO RAY CAMPI HOMEPAGE
Text © 1997-1998 Ray Campi. All Rights Reserved.
Web page design © 1997-2010 Earl P. Reinhalter. All Rights Reserved.
Webmaster's site: ElectricEarl.com