One of the pioneers of that “wild sound” known as rock and roll and rockabilly is Gene Vincent, born in Norfolk, Virginia. Comrades of Vincent of the same strain of rock are Eddie Cochran, Elvis Presley and Bill Haley and His Comets on the more mainstream side. On the underground level and even closer to home here regionally, labels such as Starday and Yucca were putting out raunchier lo-fi rockabilly singles that were driving the teens wild. Teens in the 50s and the 60s were the ones mostly drawn to this crazy new style of music that was fast paced and dance floor ready—it’s where the party’s at.
Gene Vincent struck the right chord with people all over the world with his first single “Be-Bop-A-Lula”—a mid tempo rocker with heavy reverb on the on the vocals, wild screams and a rockabilly boppin’ solo. This was the perfect introduction of Vincent to the world as he continued to deliver this winning combination.
By the early 60s, more bands were sprouting all over the world with teens in the garage banging out cover versions of Vincent’s rockabilly repertoire, sometimes keeping it the same and sometimes putting their own twist on it. Los Iracundos from Uruguay took a crack at Vincent’s rockabilly standard “Be-Bop-A-Lula” giving it a more surf sound.
Mexican garage bands from the 60s took more from the 50s rock and rollers than from the Beatles or the Stones, as many of the garage bands from other parts of the world like the US, England and other countries were doing. Bands like Los Rebeldes Del Rock, Los Apson and Los Locos Del Ritmo were all heavily influenced by the early rockers and were doing their own cover versions, sometimes having to change the words all together because it was much easier than to translate. The Beatles themselves at first even had a more rocker/rockabilly look before putting on the suits.
Bluejean Bop/Who Slapped John” was the third single for Gene Vincent, and also came from the album of the same name, Blue Jean Bop, released in 1956. This scorching double sided stomper is an all around rockabilly party. The ingredients for a good rockabilly song are all here—echoing vocals, walking bass lines, blistering solos and a lot of hootin’ and hollerin’.
“Bluejean Bop” starts out deceivingly subtle—at first the song sounds like a ballad; Vincent’s beautiful croon could be compared to a less baritone Elvis. But then a few measures in Vincent declares: “I can’t stand still so baby let’s dance!”—and the song takes a rockabilly turn and explodes into a fast paced bopper. Very clever Gene Vincent.
The b-side “Who Slapped John?” doesn’t slow down as is even wilder than the a-side. A fast paced rocker with scorching solos after the choruses and wild party screaming, this one rages. The upbeat jumpin’ beat carries through this wild track. Argentina’s own Los Beatniks cover version from the 60s “Que Paso Con John?” did this track justice with all its fervor.
When Danny and the Juniors first declared “Rock and roll is here to stay, it will never die!” they were right. In the 70s bands like The Clash and in the 80s the Stray Cats both kept the music and image alive.
Rockabilly still exist and is now a full on lifestyle that evokes all things 50s that came along with the music—hairstyles, clothes, cars, pin-up style girls with pretty dresses and greased up dudes with the pompadours and rolled up sleeves, still evokes that rebel style that is still cool. The music of Gene Vincent and his rock and roll brothers brings all these elements together; Vincent respectively is in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well as the Rockabilly Hall of fame.