"What do you think of the new movement in the syncopation of rhythm in modern music?"
"Lady, I don't know what the hell you're talking about."
I like that.
My health keeps stagnating.
I don't like that.
I can't close the right side of my jaw. Sort of interesting in a David Cronenberg's "The Fly" kind of way.
I had to turn down two potential adopters for my foster puppy. I think they would have loved her very much but it wasn't a good fit. There's yet another interested in the little one. They came over today.
Personally I didn't much care for them, but I'm not the one who'd be living with them.
Its hard deciding the fate of someone's life.
I like her going to a new home. But saddened at the idea of her leaving.
Lots of things to color the decision.
I've been thinking a lot about two old pop stars; Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent.
I don't know how some people look at it - obsessed, fan, admirer, scholar. Their work means a lot to me. Eddie was a prodigy. A brilliant guitarist who started doing session work when he was 15. He played on a lot of minor recordings, everything from doo wop to straight country.
He ended up in Hollywood. Frank Tashlin was shooting the marvelous "The Girl Can't Help It", and wanted a new "Elvis" type for a scene.
They cast Eddie Cochran. He did a hunched up bopping version of his song, "Twenty Flight Rock". It was incredible.
Also cast in the movie, as one of the established rock & roll stars was the first Rock and Roll Band, The Screaming End, Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps.
As odd as it seems the bright eyed optimistic Eddie and the dark ever cool Vincent became best friends.
These things happen. Eddie Cochran was 17 and Vincent 19.
The picture is from the two of them getting off the flight in Australia.
They hung out together constantly. Eddie a bright rising star and Vincent the man with the largest selling record of the time.
Even though Cochran was signed to Liberty Records and Vincent to Capital they appeared anonymously on each others recordings.
The union led to something special for both of them. Cochran went on to write the pop classic "Summertime Blues" (I'm a gonna raise a fuss I'm a gonna raise a holler), the near classic "Come On Everybody" (If my folks come home I know they're gonna have my hide. No more movies for a week or two, no more running round with the usual crew. Who cares. Come on everybody!) and the should have been classic, "Mean When I'm Mad". Not to mention my personal favorite "I'm an easy going guy I just always gotta have my way."
He had hit after hit. Vincent career stuttered despite his making some of the most incredible music ever heard. With Cochran in the studio and singing bass he made the incredible "Git It". It featured Cochran singing bass.
A few hundred tracks later Rock & Roll died. Pop came in, as it always does.
Gene and Eddie went to England. They were monstrous there. They exceeded even little girl fantasies. And there Eddie died. In a car wreck. Gene Vincent and a girl were in there. A cab driver was driving. Only Eddie died.
I've spoken to the girl who was with them that night. She didn't tell me anything new. She just repeated the legend. She'd done it so many times that there was no emotion left to it. No urgency except the urgency that that moment was the defining moment of her life.
Eddie Cochran is buried in Forest Lawn in LA. He has a simple headstone with an epitaph as cool as the man: Never to be forgotten". He was 21 when he died.
Vincent was already a drunk and a wreck. When Eddie died it was apparent that the little buoy he was anchored to let him drift at sea.
Gene didn't have anymore hit records but he still packed out all the shows. Back then it was the way of things. The records promoted the shows. The singers and musicians got little money from the records. Gene sold out shows without hits. As a performer his talent was that big.
He stayed in England. I'd like to think that he was happiest the one summer he played with a decent band, The Puppets, and did a daily show down at the end of a pier.
Eventually he came back home to America.
My friend Dick did a tour with him and Jan and Dean. His story is incomplete. Dick was being terrorized by Jan and Dean. He remembers once in Colorado he looked out the window and saw them tobogganing down a hill using Dick's luggage as the sled, scattering his clothes down the mountainside.
Dick was most impressed that Jan and Dean never terrorized Gene Vincent. Everyone else was fair game. Back when Buddy Holly had the top two records in America he was in a hotel lobby signing autographs. Gene Vincent entered the lobby and Buddy Holly pushed through his fans and through Gene Vincent's fans just to ask Gene for his autograph.
Gene Vincent had that effect on other performers.
Dick just thought Gene was the softest spoken man he'd ever met.
I didn't understand any of it until I saw Gene at some ratty club in the valley. I think it was '69.
I went alone. No one else wanted to go or the ones who did want to go didn't understand the why of it.
The place was filled with aging rockabilly cats, all of them poured into their finest cat clothes, beautiful bright colors that still looked cool even if they hardly fit the boys now men 10 years later.
Gene hit the stage and I was shocked. He was about thirty but I could have accepted that he was 60 or a youthful 70. He was fat and looked horrid in clothes that were trying to be hip. I thought about leaving.
Then he started to sing.
I sat on stage in Vegas while Sinatra performed. I've seen Elvis in Vegas. I've seen Nureyev in his prime. They couldn't hold a candle to the fading flame that was on stage that night. It was like God had sent us an angel to sing away our sins, a young devil to show where temptation lies, a Cassiopeia to torment us with His omnipotent sadness.
Yeah. He was that good. Better than we deserve.
John Barry, Eddie Cochran, Adam Faith, Gene VincentA lot of Gene Vincent fans will fight you if you say anything remotely negative. I don't mean argue with you like Stevie Wonder fans, or get belligerent like Elvis fans, I mean straight razor silent attack fight you. I understand why.
I understood why a man who did so little for others, who was a bad drunk was so eternally loved.
There's an apartment building in West Hollywood. Its big and filled with faded faux glamour. Its a place where the aspiring and the fallen of Hollywood live. Kids going to the Guitar Institute or the Strasberg Institute live next door to people with a hundred films to their credit, the last one 30 years ago. I found out Gene was living there.
I didn't get to meet him. I tried. He'd gotten a new wife, kissed his daughter goodbye and moved to Simi Valley.
Simi is where they held the trail that exonerated the cops in the Rodney King beating. There was the Simi Valley Freeway because MGM had made some noise about moving their operations out there. MASH, the TV show, was shot there.
Land was cheap there. There had been a flood, rare in Southern Cal, and the flood had hit a cemetery and it deposited a couple hundred corpses and coffins on the bright sunny lawns.
An interesting place for Vincent to live.
He died there. He came home and found out his new wife had cleared out the house. He called his mother and cried, "She took everything mama. Even my record player." Even my record player . . . He collapsed. His mother called an ambulance and Gene Vincent died of a bleeding ulcer, caused by chronic alcoholism.
It didn't quite end there. Gene's sister was hooked into the Tony Alamo Cult. Alamo was a guy who could have been Jim Jones. His was best known for posting his people outside abortion clinics and trying to buy the baby from expectant mothers. The children to be raised as Tony Alamo's . . . who knows what.
They turned Gene's funeral into a fiasco.
I visited the grave. It's out in Saugus.
He has a simple flat headstone. There's a poorly colored picture of Gene on it and the first two bars of Be Bop A Lula on a straight staff. The ground shakes from the semi's that constantly roar past.
I think he'd have liked that . . . at least.
I remembering thinking he gave us so much and all we gave him was money.
Luis Royo - Evolution