January 1957 : Gene is still in convalescence, this allows him to put a new band. The lack of shows during the first months of 1957 is a problem for Gene : he wants to start a real rock n roll show, in which he would perform with the Blue Caps. This new band is going to introduce a brand new sound from which Gene and the whole genre will benefit. The band will evolve from an electro-acoustic style to a more electric sound, with three guitarists and one drummer. The main difficulty is to find a guitarist able to replace Gallup. A young guitarist, Johnny Meeks, who played in the same orchestra as Paul Peek, ‘Country Earl’ of Greenville (South Carolina) will become the leader of the Blue Caps for two year and a half. Hard-working, Meeks asks at first if he can plays as he usually do it, thus showing his great abilities, despite his self-conscious attitude. He can even excel his great predecessor, in a different style, being more interested by the search for a new sound instead of pure virtuosity.) Still deeply affected by the departure of Cliff Gallup, Gene was very impressed by Meeks and quickly accepted him, as well as his own bass player, Bill Mack, from South Carolina. Influenced by Black Rythm’n Blues bands, like the ‘Coasters’ or the ‘Flamingos’,…Gene decided that the stage of the new show would be occupied by three singers and he would be the leader. This lead to the birth of the Clapper Boys, whose role would be to back up Gene, for the vocal performance, but also from the point of view of the presence on stage. Paul Peek and Tommy ‘Bubba’ Facenda would get this role. Peek became one of the chorists, and also one of the famous clapper boy, along with Tommy Bubba Facenda, neighbor and friend of Dickie Harrell. Facenda was a handsome boy from Italia, who dropped from school so that he could follow Gene. They used to clap, dance and sing in a unique way, falling on the ground, their head in the amplifiers during the guitar breaks. Dickie Harrell is still on the drums, Meeks and Jones are above all used to play Country and Western music. This change from Hillbilly music to Rock n Roll will take them time. They rehearsed until aprtil 1957 at Gene’s parents’. Meeks used a three-shafted guitar (6 cords and a mandolin), which made quite an impression on Gene. The new show was on a lot of technically advanced visual effects. Gene could not stand imprecise work. with Bill Mack 7th January 1957 : rekease of ‘Crazy Legs’/’Important Words’ (capitol F3617 US) February 1957 : Stay at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. Then Gene must once again go to the hospital after wounding his leg again, in Norfolk. March 1957 : Gene is again in convalescence, at his own place (Norfolk, Viriginia). 4th March 1957: the album ‘Gene Vincent & The Blue Caps’ came out (capitol T811 US) : Red Blue Jeans And A Pony Tail / Hold Me, Hug Me, Rock Me, Unchained Melody / You Told A Fib / Cat Man / You Better Believe / Cruis'in' / Double Talkin' Baby / Blues Stay Away From Me / Pink Thunderbird / I Sure Miss You / Pretty, Pretty Baby (also available as 3 EP s). 25th march 1957 : Release of ‘Five Days’/’Bi Bickey Bi Bo Bo Go’ (Capitof F 3678 US) April 1957 : six days long tour in Ohio, with Sanford Clark, Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison. April 1957 : Show at the Mastbaum Theatre, in Philadelphia, with Eddie Cochran. 28th April 1957 : concert at this Howard Miller Show in Chicago, in front of 32000 people. Gene was also awarded a golden record for ‘Be Bop A Lula’, given by his producer Ken Nelson. Chicago at that time May 1957 : The Blue Caps’ bass-player Bill Mack is replaced by Bobby Jones. Gene needs a new manager if he wants to tour again : Ken Nelson made him sign a contract with Ed Mc Lemore from the Dallas Agency ‘Artist Service Bureau’. Mc Lemore bought a huge Chrysler ‘Windsor’ : 9 seats, and a trailer for the instruments, as well as new stage wear: green suits for Peek and Facenda, red suits with brown velvet collars for the others, and a dozen of satin or velvet shirts for Gene. June 1957 : Gene signed a new managing contract with the Artist Service Bureau from Dallas, directed by Ed McLemore. Larry Thacker was made personal manager. Gene also sang at the Ozark Jubilee in Springfield with Red Foley. Then he went back to the hospital to have a steel splint put on his wounded leg. 19th/20th June 1957 : Recordings at Capitol studios in Hollywood. Buck Owens was hired as acoustic guitarist for the recording session of the 19th. The Owen Bradley studio in Nashville was not available: they had to record at the Capitol studios in California, in the basement of the ‘Capitol Tower’. The place looks a bit like a train station hall: the sound is going to change. Pictures of the Capitol studio in 1957 : 22nd July 1957 : Release of ‘Lota Lovin’/’Wear my ring’ (Capitol F 3763 US) , n°12 in september. 12th August 1957 : Gene performed at the TV show American Bandstand, hosted by Dick Clark. For his first appearance at this show, he did ‘Lotta Lovin’ and ‘Wear my Ring’. August 1957 : Gene’s new touring in the US lead him to Twin Falls Idaho, and Iowa. Gene Vincent - Matter's Ballroom Decorah Iowa 9 August 1957 September 1957 : at the end of the month, Gene is done with his touring of the main states of the USA. 29th September 1957 : Gene leaves the USA for what would be his first stay abroad. 30th September/17th october 1957 : he tours through Australia for 18 days with Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, Alis Lesley and Johnyn O’Keefe. Gene and Eddie, in Australia. Gene Vincent, 1957, Australia, INTERVIEW October 57 : November 1957 : new tour in the US, Max Lipscomb (aka Scotty McKay) is hired as rythm guitarist and pianist. Max Lipscomb November 1957 : The Georgia Auditorium Vancouver : Gene Vincent Vancouver 1957 INTERVIEW https://youtu.be/fwOG2ntrB3c 17th November 1957 : Gene Vincent appears on the Ed Sullivan Show, for the presentation of a gold record for ‘Lotta Lovin’, which sold 1 500 000 copies. He also sang ‘Dance to the Bop’. Despite the fame, the burden of the constant touring had made Dickie Harrell leave the Blue Caps before the appearance on TV at the Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday 17th November 1957. However Gene asked him to come back for the show: he can be seen on recently found video clips, on the drums, playing franctically on crazy stage versions of ‘Lotta Lovin’ and ‘Dance to the Bop’. 18th November 1957 : Release of ‘Dance to the Bop’/’I Got it’ (Capitol F 3839 US). Drummer Dickie Harrell was replaced by Dude Kahn, and the Grestch guitar used by the Blue Caps were replaced by Fenders. 20th November 1957 : Re-issue of ‘Lotta Lovin’/’Be Bop A Lula’ (Capitol F3871 US). 6th/18th December 1957 : Recording session at the Capitol Tower studios in Hollywood, with the comeback of Dickie Harrell. Gene and the Caps recorded 15 title in 4 days, including ‘Baby Blue’, ‘Frankie & Johnny’, ‘I Got a Baby’, ‘Brand New Beat’,…The recording conditions were worse than beforer. The ingeniors used only three microphones: one for the vocals, one for the drum, and one for the two guitars and the bass, the whole thing plucked on the same amplifier. They often rehearse songs on the day before, in hotel rooms and record them the following day, in one or two takes. Each musician can give his own idea, since there is no technical advisor. Johnny Meek likes to use gadgets, for exemple a coin instead of a mediator in ‘Yes I Love You Babe’. This brings to the group a new and original sound which will make up for the shortcomings of the recording conditions. One album is recorded: ‘Gene Vincent Rocks and The Blue Caps Roll’, from which will be taken a lot of singles. 16th December 1957 : Gene appeared for the second time on the Dick Clark TV show, American Bandstand, without his band. He sang ‘Dance to the Bop’ : 19th december 1957 : The Blue Caps take a plane to New York to appear on the ‘Alan Freed package show’ at the Paramount Theatre, broadcast on the station WINS. December 1957 : back to Portsmouth for the Christmas. Max LipsComb lef the band to resume his studies. He was replaced by Cliff Simmons (piano) and Grady Owen (rythm guitar). In 1957, changes among the Blue Caps became usual, Gene being unable of keeping together the same people for more than a few months. Shortly after the last recording sessions of 1957 with Lipscomb, Peek and Facenda left the band to start a solo career. Gene was then worried because of the upcoming release of a new movie, ‘Hot Rod Gang’ (1958) in which he performed 4 songs. He hired Grady Owen as a rythm guitarist, and a 15 years old boy, Juvey Gomez to replace Dickie Harrell who had now left for good. Peek and Facenda were however persuaded to come back for the movie, because their work as clapped boys and vocal performances were essential to the stage presence of the Blue Caps. Their harmony with Gene, standing at his side while he performed ‘Baby Blue’ in ‘Hot Rod Gang’ really showed the talent of the Blue Caps while Gene was at the peak of his stardom.
interview : https://youtu.be/fwOG2ntrB3c Gene Vincent Vancouver 1957 https://youtu.be/2SxBnX1cYUg Gene Vincent 1957 Avalon Ballroom Visconsin