1935 – Gene Vincent (Eugene Vincent Craddock) is born on This Day In Rock in Norfolk, Va. His biggest hit is the top 10 song “Be-Bop-a-Lula” in 1956.
Vincent Eugene Craddock, better known as Gene Vincent, was an American musician who pioneered the styles of rock and roll and rockabilly. His top ten hit, in 1956, with his Blue Caps, “Be-Bop-A-Lula”, is considered a significant early example of rockabilly. Vincent is a member of both the Rock and Roll and Rockabilly Halls of Fame.
His first guitar was a gift from a friend at the age of 12. His early musical influences included country, gospel music and rhythm and blues. He showed his first real music interest while his family lived in Munden Point, Princess Anne County (now Virginia Beach), Virginia, near the North Carolina line, where they ran a country store.
He wrote “Be-Bop-A-Lula”, in 1956, which was No. 102 on Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Rock and Roll Songs of All Time” list. “Sheriff Tex” Davis, Local radio DJ, arranged for the song to be demoed securing Vincent a contract with Capitol Records. Although “Be-Bop-A-Lula” was not on Vincent’s first album when, he signed a publishing contract with Bill Lowery of The Lowery Group of music publishers in Atlanta, Georgia, it was picked by Capitol producer Ken Nelson as the B side of his first single. Lowery pressed promotional copies of “Be-Bop-A-Lula” and sent them to radio stations throughout the country prior to the release of the single. By the time Capitol released “Be-Bop-A-Lula”, as a single, it had already gained attention from the public and radio DJs. This “B-Side” song, was picked up and played by other U.S. radio stations (obscuring the original “A-side” song), and became a hit and launched Vincent as a rock ‘n’ roll star. After becoming a hit, “Be-Bop-A-Lula” (peaking at No. 7 at 20 weeks on the Billboard Pop Chart), Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps were unable to follow it up with the same level of commercial success. However, they released critically-acclaimed songs like “Race With The Devil” (No. 96 in Billboard) and “Bluejean Bop” (No. 49). Vincent was reportedly convicted of public obscenity and fined $10,000 by the state of Virginia that year for his live performance of the erotic song, “Woman Love”. This is now believed to have been a rumor possibly started by his manager.