Graham Reid | | 1 min read
When the late Ian Dury appeared on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs it was no surprise that he would pick a song by Fifties rock'n'roller Gene Vincent.
The surprise was the song he chose as one of the eight to take to some isolated place.
Dury -- who wrote the terrific tribute Sweet Gene Vincent -- hah had his life turned around when he heard Vincent in the film The Girl Can't Help It.
"It's in the film for about 18 secondfs," he said, "and you can hear him in the background. I couldn't believe it.
"I thought, 'What's that?' The voice, the song and the visuals together. My brain exploded, my heart exploded."
Once Dury found out about Vincent -- after a car accident at 17 his left leg was in a steel brace so he walked with a limp -- there's little doubt the young boy (who walked with calipers after childhood polio) had found a figure he could relate to.
Vincent's image also profoundly affected the teenage Dury: the black jacket and glove, the white shirt, the black hair greased back. Vincent looked like rock'n'roll when it was a rebel music.
Vincent's career as a charting star was short but he did deliver a rock'n'roll classic with Be-Bop-A-Lula in '56. But a car crash in 1960 while touring in Britain (which killed Eddie Cochran) pushed him down even lower and he combined drink with pain killers until his death in '71.
Vincent's first and greatest hit Be-Bop-A-Lula however was originally the B-side of his first single (and even not on his debut album).
The A-side was the terrific and indecipherable Woman Love (banned by some US radio stations because they presumed it to be filthy) and it was that song which Dury picked for that radio programme.
The sign of the true fan is that they know B-sides . . . and in this instance the A-side of the song which became the hit.
Ian Dury was a true Gene Vincent fan.