GENE AND MORETTI. ROME TV 1960               GENE & BLUECAPS

Gene Vincent. What can one say about Gene? Superstar. Legend. Adjectives don't cover it. Pictures in magazines, movies, TV shows, the mysterious figure in the black leather suit swinging a microphone around. Well, in the short time I knew him I saw a side of the guy that very few people knew about. Gene, the person, the human being. To me he was always hurting a little inside. That loneliness that was a part of all of us in the 50's/60's. The movies, the fame, travelling around the world, living out of a suitcase, sure it fed the Ego, but quite simply you had nowhere to hang your hat. Gene was always happiest when he was mixing with the Guys. And Gene was one of the Guys. On stage he was Gene Vincent-Superstar, off stage he was Gene, "Hey Baby, Nice to see You, what's happenin'?" A friend, a buddy. So as you gradually got to know each other a genuine affection developed. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't a special case. He was like that with everyone, except those who tried to kiss his ass. He didn't like that. Get this, Gene knew that I came from the wrong side of the tracks in my home town, Glasgow, Scotland. And funnily enough it was there that Gene revealed a little secret to me that told me he was streetwise. During a rehearsal at the "Empire Theatre" Glasgow, we got to discussing Gangs, streetfighting, and comparing different methods used in various cities in the " Art of self defence." In Glasgow, Cut throat razors were the favourite weapons in the 30's/ 40's. Then this progressed to bayonets, and axes. Dreadful things. " Hey Joey, Do you know the best place to keep a razor ?" Gene asked. " So the Law don't find it?" I confessed that I didn't. "Here" He said, pointing to the fly on his Jeans. If You examine a pair of Jeans you'll see that one side of the fly has a wide border. If you cut a slit in the top of that border, You can hide a cut thoat razor in there, closed of course ! Gene's bad leg never seemed to bother him. He never complained about it, except for it being a bloody nuisance. But he never showed any resentment, he just accepted it. I remember one time in a hotel in the north of England Gene took his trousers off so we could examine his bad leg, You know, the one with the steel brace. Very thin it was because the muscles had wasted. But we were all very matter of fact about it, like we were discussing the weather. He said he had smashed it coming off a motor cycle at very high speed in his younger days. The good times? The times he was at his happiest? Like I say, Those were the times when he was one of the Guys.

I knew of a nice little Hotel in Kelvinside Glasgow, called "Allan's Hotel" which served the best "Southern Fried Chicken" in the U.K. and "Corn on the Cob" "I don't believe You !" said Gene " If you can find me southern fried and corn everyone's invited ! " Except the ass creepers of course. And so it was that about ten of us ended up at Allan's Hotel one night after the show. I knew the owner from a previous visit, and had explained about Gene coming etc. Oh, the Gentleman did us proud. He had set out a private dining room for us, so We could have complete privacy, and Gene could relax. There was a big long table set out, with a white linen tablecloth, serviettes, flowers, bottles of good wine, and I was very proud of The Scottish Hospitality. And all The Southern Fried you could eat. And we had a ball. I'm sure Gene was a down home boy. Well, I can't remember getting home that night, I don't think any of us can. And Gene payed the bill. That same night, at the show, the audience had started tearing the theatre apart. The "Empire Theatre" Glasgow. None of us had ever seen anything like it. The management had to bring the fire curtain down during Billy Fury's act. Right from the beginning of the show the crowd wanted Gene . No one else but Gene, and we had already featured aout 3 or 4 "up and coming" artists. Then Billy Appeared in a gold lamme suit. When the spotlight hit it, it was like an exploding ball of light. I thought it was very impressive, but the crowd didn't. A shower of missiles began to descend on the stage. Coins, and big brass ashtrays. The guys in the audience were ripping them from the seats, and these things are coming from the balcony, and travelling! One brass ashtray tore a huge gash in Red Reece's "ride" cymbal. Very expensive. We had to stop the show, I don't think Gene even went on that night. There was fighting everywhere. In the theatre, In the foyer and in the streets. We had van loads of Police sorting it out. And it was headlines in the papers the following morning. And everyone blamed Billy's gold suit. So, like I say, after the show that night we went back to Allans' hotel and had Southern fried, corn on the cob, and drowned our sorrows. Great fun. So from Southern fried chicken to C/W. Oh Yes, Gene knew all about that too.
                                          Gene/ Moretti   Rome tv 1960
There was always a guitar around, on the coach or wherever and guys would be playing this and that. When I sung a few "Hank Williams" songs, Gene was amazed. "How come You know these Songs?" He asked . He knew all the titles, and sung a few himself. So he obviously had some connection with C/W in his past. Good C/W I mean. Gene would sing anything that he liked. It didn't have to be pure rock and roll. He made a lovely job of "Over the Rainbow" and that's one of the songs he sung in Rome. We were playing in an open air restaurant after that well-known TV show. on May 28th 1961. He was always "intimate" with a song. You never got a "plastic" performance from Gene. He meant it. "Up a Lazy River" was another song Gene loved to do. Anyone who has heard that song knows the melancholy and longing in those lyrics, and such a sweet chord sequence. Another funny little incident was when Gene heard us use the word "Fag", the British slang word for cigarette. In the U.S of A it's a term reserved for someone who is homosexual. So when anyone said "I need a fag!" Gene would say " Don't look at me baby, you got the wrong Guy"!! He was a very hospitable guy, very generous. As the " backing musicians". We never had much money, and being away from home on tour, you would want to phone home to check that everything was ok there, with your famiy etc. Now there must have been a dozen of us guys, but Gene just said "Sure, go ahead, use the phone baby" so there were the guys phoning all over the UK. And Gene just put it down to expenses. He didn't have to do it, but it was very important at the time, Personally, I didn't have the price of a phone call. So one remembers kindnesses like that. Just how far does Gene's influence extend? Well, I once saw a video documentary on Gene and his followers in the U.K. One extremely interesting sequence featured a gentleman from North London who had a steel brace on his leg, just like Gene. For real. And he had the black leather suit, sung all of Gene's songs and was appearing at local halls etc. He wasn't stealing Gene's act, this was his way of paying tribute to Gene and keeping his memory alive. He didn't just appear like that on stage, he went around like that all the time. As I have mentioned, Gene never gave a plastic performance, it was always real. he was a sincere singer, and could pull out the "meaning" of a song. Intimate is the word I think.I've watched extensive clips from numerous shows of Gene, courtesy of my good friend Didier Delcourt, who sent the video tape, and one of the things that stood out in all of those shows was Gene's sincerity. Whether he was backed by a simple trio or surrounded by dozens of "TV Spectacula " extras, you can't take take your eyes off Gene. And to me that's the sign of someone special. Gene had "Charisma", that indefinable Quality. Magic. Let me wrap this up by telling you that after that tour, I moved on, working and recording with various bands and artists, eventually going into the session business full time. But occasionally I'd go back to the 2 I's just to see the guys, and shall I tell you something? "Yes Please " you say. Well now and again I'd see Gene. Just dropping by to have a cup of coffee, or get some new guys together for a band, or just saying hello. And to me that's what made him so special, He was "One of the Guys." He paid his dues. That was one of the most enjoyable times in my life, and I'd do it all again tomorrow. God bless your Memory Gene.
                                                (c)     July 2001