Gene Vincent, real name Vincent Eugene Craddock, (February 11, 1935 – October 12, 1971) was an American rockabilly pioneer musician, best known for his hit Be-Bop-A-Lula. He performed with his backing band, the Blue Caps.|
After Be-Bop-A-Lula had become a huge hit (peaking at #7 and spending 20 weeks in the Billboard Pop Chart), Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps (often mis-named as ‘the’ Blue Caps) were unable to follow it up with the same level of commercial success, but released critically acclaimed songs like Race With The Devil (#96 in Billboard) and Bluejean Bop (#49).
Following a visit to Europe in 1959, Vincent managed to attract a new huge and discerning audience there, especially in England and France. By that time his career had mostly ended in the US. In 1960, while on tour in Britain, Vincent and songwriter Sharon Sheeley were seriously injured in a high-speed traffic accident. Vincent broke his ribs, collarbone, and added further damage to his already weak leg which he had injured in a motorcycle accident in 1955 and refused to have amputated, and Sheeley suffered a broken pelvis. Both Vincent and Sheeley survived, but the accident killed Vincent’s tourmate and Sheeley’s fiancé, Eddie Cochran.
Vincent subsequently moved to England in 1963. His stage shows became “must see” events and his bands through those years were to spawn some of the most respected players in the world today. It was during his early tours of Britain that he adopted the trademark leather outfit, at the suggestion of British Rock ‘n’ Roll impressario, Jack Good.