February 11, 2014
Gene Vincent was reading a book “Monsieur Venus” by Rachilde, that deals with gender issues as well as reversing the role of a female and a male. He thought the theme of the book was crazy, but at least it kept him from thinking about his left leg, which was hurting like crazy. He didn’t like to read a lot, but he had a thing for French decadent literature. He read somewhere that Rachilde was known as ‘Mademoiselle Baudelaire’ and that was a good reason enough to pick up this novel.
He couldn’t remember the details, but being a musician he was more aware of the sounds of the crash as well as the series of what it seems as endless British accents trying to talk to him. But without a doubt, his friend’s death closed one world, and there was just an entrance in front of him, and surely it wasn’t the gates of heaven.
Reading and performing on a stage is the only two positions that make him feel alive. Drinking deadens his motor skills, but when he can soar, it is very much a spiritual or metaphysical series of moments. He couldn’t speak French, but the French surely love him. He spent a lot of time there, and was introduced to French literature from a fellow rocker Vince Taylor.
The inspiration to one of his biggest hits “Be-Bop-A-Lula” came from the comic strip “Little Lulu.” As a child in Norfork Virginia, Vincent loved a neighbor of his, that looked exactly like Little Lulu. She had a headful of ringlets and always wore a pretty red coat. She was poor, so Gene was convinced that she had nothing on under her coat, and therefore when ever Gene felt a chill he thought of his neighbor.
“Be-Bop-A-Lula” is a prayer for the ideal essence of life where Lulu is both an angel and an agent for Satan. The way things are turning out for Gene Vincent, it is the latter. Many years later I ended up at Rockaway Records on Glendale Boulevard and in their used record bins, I found five re-issued Capital Records albums by Gene Vincent, all for $6.99. I purchased them all, and now in my household I have a shrine to Gene, that is surrounded by a ink portrait of Rachilde and an old “Little Lulu” comic.