TV documentary (1969): “Gene Vincent – Rock & Roll Singer”

I recently discovered this BBC TV documentary about the late rock & roller’s British tour of that year. It’s a fascinating and sad picture of the man who a decade previously was a huge star, riding his classic hit “Be Bop a Lula” to the top of the charts.

In the film, he plays tiny clubs and small halls, struggling to get paid. (One commenter aptly described the setting as “the rough end of the music biz in the raw”).

He comes across as someone tolerant of the circumstances he’s found himself in, doing all he knows how to do, all with a warm smile and gentle voice. (Unlike some accounts I’ve heard of him touring where he was sometimes described as argumentative and more).On top of all the other challenges he faced, he spent his career in pain resulting from a 1955 motorcycle accident where he almost lost a leg. The leg was re-injured in the 1960 English car accident that killed fellow rocker Eddie Cochrane (‘Summertime Blues”).

Within two years of this tour, Vincent was dead of a burst ulcer.

Watch the documentary (45 minutes) here:


For a glimpse of a younger Vincent, watch a clip on this page from a 1963 Belgian concert. He enters on crutches, then throws them away so he can dance on his one good leg. The opening scene shows Vincent exhausted and drained (the blogger describes it as “profound sadness and unbearable torment”), as he’s seen again 6 years later in the BBC doc.