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Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran: Rock 'n' Roll Revolutionaries [Hardcover]

John Collis
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

24 Jun 2004
The United Kingdom had never seen anything like it, as two rock'n'roll legends rampaged around the country on Britain's first-ever rock tour. Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran lived the rock'n'roll lifestyle to the full, bringing to an end the monochrome 1950s and ushering in the swinging 60s. John Collis has traced the story of the UK tour that was a defining moment in British popular culture to its tragic climax with the death of Eddie Cochran. He looks back on the contrasting backgrounds of the two stars, follows the tale onwards to Gene Vincent's death from alcohol and drug abuse, and examines the lasting legacy of their music.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Virgin Books (24 Jun 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852271930
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852271930
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 740,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

John Collis is a freelance journalist, author and editor. His journalism has included work on Time Out, the Guardian, Radio Times, the Sunday Times, The Times, the Independent and the Observer. He is the co-author of the musical Race With the Devil: The Legend of Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent, which provided the starting point for this book, as well as books on Van Morrison, the Blues, the music of Frank Sinatra, John Denver and Chuck Berry.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How UK '60s rock got kickstarted 4 Jan 2006
By Siriam TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book has an interesting history in that it is a result of research done for an original stage show of the UK tour by Gene and Eddie which sadly never made it to the West End for a long run after a regional tour. The author has then added the prior history of Eddie until the UK tour and the story of Gene before and after the tour and post the tragic death of Eddie at the tour end in a car crash.
The best and most interesting aspect is the UK tour itself and the memories of many people who saw the tour and the impact it had on them including the musicians on the tour plus the recording of various press comments (the often quoted story of George Harrison going to several shows in Liverpool and being converted to music as a result is missing but not a lot else). The UK '60s pop scene probably owes a lot more than the author claims to this event given this was a true rock concert tour all the prior ones especially Buddy Holly having been lumped with family style variety shows. Also the exposure of many musicians to an accomplished US session player like Eddie, who like Gene proved to also be a great live performer, gave the UK its first taste of what might be even if the performer's recording careers were in decline in their homeland.
The separate histories of each performer are in large part well known territory to their fans but there is enough in anecdotes and new facts to avoid any feeling of it just being regurgitated material. The tragedy of Gene Vincent's decline post Eddie's death is the best I have read and that includes the biographies on Gene alone that exist.
John Collis has nailed down very well a key event in UK rock history and one is left at the end feeling more than ever that the death of Eddie Cochran at the hands of an inexperienced driver (like Buddy Holly before him in a plane crash which apparently haunted Eddie if the book is true)was a great loss given the direction his musical skills were moving in.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gene Vincent 27 Sep 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Someone told me about this book,I was in a band that worked and lived and recorded with Gene Vincent in 1965,we did a summer season in Blackpool with him.
Drink does terrible things to people.This is a good read.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gene and eddie-john collis 21 Sep 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
as a life long gene and eddie fan-and the rest- i found this absolutly brilliant, ive a lot more to say on this and will add in the next few days.p.s why has nobody done a film on gene- i find this unbelieveable. if ian dury was alive id say he should play him but andy circus will do fine.vinny
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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The genesis for the 1960s British beat invasion 7 Jan 2006
By Siriam - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book has an interesting history in that it is a direct result of research done for an original musical stage show of the 1960 UK tour by Gene and Eddie which sadly never made it to the London West End for a long run after a regional UK tour. The author has then added the prior history of Eddie up to the UK tour and the story of Gene before and after the tour and post the tragic death of Eddie at the tour end in a car crash on the way to London to catch a plane home to the USA.

The best and most interesting aspect is the story of the UK tour itself and the memories of many people who saw the tour and the impact it had on them including the musicians on the tour plus the recording of various national and local press comments (the often quoted story of George Harrison going to several shows in Liverpool and being converted to rock music as a result is missing but not a lot else).

The UK '60s pop scene and its ensuing global presence probably owes a lot more than the author credits to this event given this was probably the first true rock'n'roll concert tour the UK had ever had with highly regarded US rockers featured as the stars supported by other British rock acts of that time. All the prior ones especially Buddy Holly and Bill Haley had been lumped into family style variety shows by their promoters much like the early Elvis tours in the USA arranged by Tom Parker.

Also the exposure of many UK musicians to an accomplished US session player such as Eddie, who like Gene proved to also be a great live performer (plus they also made several appearances on the only weekly UK radio and TV rock shows the UK then had which added to their national impact), gave the UK its first taste of what might be, even if both performer's recording careers were then in decline in their homeland. One of the British guitarists backing Eddie on the tour (Jim Sullivan) went on to teach many 60s musicians including a young Jimmy Page and the recent Jeff Beck tribute CD to Gene Vincent reflected in part his seeing him live on tour as a teenager, Gene virtually moving to Europe to perform in the early 1960s.

The separate histories of each performer are in large part well known territory to their fans but there is enough in anecdotes and new facts to avoid any feeling of it just being regurgitated material. The tragedy of Gene Vincent's decline post Eddie's death is the best I have read and that includes the biographies on Gene alone that exist.

John Collis has nailed down very well a key event in UK rock history and one is left at the end feeling more than ever that the death of Eddie Cochran at the hands of an inexperienced car driver (like Buddy Holly before him in a plane crash, which apparently haunted Eddie if the book is true)was a great loss given the direction his musical skills were then moving in.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Save your money, there are better bios out there. 29 Mar 2006
By Old Enough to Know Better - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is about the most poorly written, boring rock bio I've ever read.

The first part of the book deals with the 1960 joint tour of the UK by Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent. If you are interested in the arcane details of a tour 45 years ago you might enjoy this but the account is long on words and short on real information. This is obviously the material that was to be used as a stage show. It's too detailed and slowly paced to read well. There are numerous accounts, one for each performance but it gets repetitive.

If you survive the first section you will be rewarded with the only section of the book that reads like a biography; the prologues for both Cochran and Vincent. These were actually worth the time to read.

Once you've read the prologues you get to read the epilogues which are not as bad as the first section of the book but they don't read nearly as well as the prologues.

Eddie Cochran's epilogue is fairly short (not much happens after you die) and mostly deals with posthumous releases of his recordings.

Gene Vincent's epilogue reads like a slow-motion, millisecond by millisecond account of a train wreck. Mr. Vincent's life didn't seem to be very happy, and his last years seemed particularly unpleasant.

The author manages to work in an attack on Margaret Thatcher along the way and an account of the de-colonization of the African continent too. Interesting but what does it have to do with this bio?

At the end of it all I felt that I learned nearly nothing about their music. There was more talk about boozing, drugs and womanizing than about the musical ground that they broke. Frankly my opinion is this; someone put a lot of research into a play that never made it and they decided to write a book with the information. The problem is that it isn't a very good book.
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting *** 30 July 2013
By Carole/Baby Blue - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I believe this is for a individual who is a true Gene Vincent fan or knew him as I did and can separate fact from fiction . I did not know Eddie Cochran but considering the sources I take everything I read with a grain of salt . I guess its whatever makes for good reading . His truth and mine differ , I will leave it at that . I knew Gene for 14 years . He certainly had more than his share of problems . He suffered with incredible pain due to a serious leg injury from a motorcycle accident in 1955 . Wore a leg brace on his left leg for the rest of his short life . Died at the age of 36 . Gene was a Rock'n'Roll legend , called "The Sreaming End". He was a trailblazer in the world of Rock'n'Roll !!!!! His voice and style so unique . When he sang ballads it was the voice of an angel .Sweet Gene was exciting , he was magic !!!
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE IT 3 Nov 2011
By Cochranmusic - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I loved this book. It was a great look into the tour of England and what it was like to be there. I think I read this book in 2 days which is rare for me. It has been a few years since I have read it and I am long over due to pick it back up. This is a book that I will return to again and again over the next years.
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