Home Gene Vincent Tours with the Animals in England Back

This story was excised from my book, Trips, by a legal reading. That's when an attorney reads a book before the publisher prints it to make sure that nothing they can be sued for gets published. It's very strange what makes or fails the cut, but this brief episode, I guess because it's gritty and hearsay, got nixed. I have no problem believing Eric Burden, who unreeled this, among a number of uproarious road stories for me in an interview for Trips, that this series of events took place.

This would-be excerpt was subsequently published in a very limited circulation tabloid, "Greenwood," edited and published by Michael Lydon, a writer I admire. I have edited it slightly since. The story was told to me by Eric Burden, of the Animals. He was describing his touring life in the sixties. Gene Vincent, having problems extending his career in the U.S., was touring extensively in U.K., where his fan base was considerably more appreciative.

Gene Vincent had broken his leg badly in a 1953 motorcycle accident and it was permanently damaged, causing him constant pain. This tended to encourage his habit of drinking, which in turn led to his legendary boisterous behavior. This is a story from one of the times in the early sixties when rocker Gene Vincent, of "Be-Bop-A-Lula" fame, toured with Eric Burden and The Animals in the U.K. and Europe.

Vincent [according to Burden] was a "complete paranoid," certain everyone was balling his wife, Margie,who in fact [again, according to Burden] nobody would touch with a fork. He even carried a gun to insure her fidelity and scared everyone around him many times. For instance, in a hotel in Paris, Vincent convinced the concierge to break into the equipment man's room in the middle of the night, whereupon Vincent took the man's head in a hammerhold and dragged him around while the concierge begged "monsieur, please! I am certain she is not in here!"

When Vincent toured with The Animals, the whole show traveled in a big bus. After one particular gig, Gene Vincent was raising almighty hell in the bus [fighting with Margie]. The tour manager was trying desperately to get the money out of the promoter who was trying desperately to screw the band out of it, and the racket on the bus wasn't helping any. This was causing a huge, survival-affecting problem. Vincent was uncontrollably mad. So, the Animals took some electrical cable and tied Vincent across the seat and when he writhed in fury trying to get free, somebody sat on him--on his good leg.

Vincent shrieked for a full minute. "My leg, my leg, you've broken it, you bastards!" But the Animals didn't believe him. The Animals finally got paid and split--fast. Enroute to the next venue, Vincent was screaming so loudly that they actually did take a look at his leg. By God, it really was broken. What would they do? They were living hand to mouth, one gig to another, making only enough money to pay the way as they went and one stop would leave them stranded. They had no choice but to go on.

They shot Vincent full of morphine, planning to call a doctor when they got to the next venue. Meanwhile, the leg was swelling to the point where it split his trousers and it was turning garish colors. They pulled into town with just enough time to set up for their gig and no time for Vincent to see a doctor. They gave Vincent more dope and booze and when it was time for him to go on, he stumbled on to the stage and promptly keeled over flat on the floor.

Hurriedly, The Animals closed the curtain, brought in some crutches and tied Vincent to the microphone stand with electrical cord to keep him upright. Then, they parted the curtains again. The audience went wild. Gene Vincent began to sing, bleary and sounding like a record played at too slow a speed, his eyes drooping, his mouth leaking

Beeeee…..bop a lu

And they made it through another show.