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A LIFE INA Rock ‘n’ Roll

Life as a rock’n’roll star in the 60s was more than just sold-out shows and luxury living. Here, our resident rocker Vince Eager reminisces about bassists gone AWOL, escape plans, and being held hostage…
Photos supplied by Vince Eager

In 1960 my manager Larry Parnes decided to branch out and produce an eight-week summer show at the Britannia Pier in Great Yarmouth starring Billy Fury, Johnny Gentle, Dickie Pride, American soul singer Davy Jones, and yours truly, with my group The Quiet Three. Unfortunately, it was only two months after Eddie Cochran’s fatal accident and I wasn’t speaking to Parnes due to his insensitive handling of the publicity surrounding Eddie’s demise. Any communications between Parnes and myself were dealt with by my road manager Noel and my publicity manager Chris Reynolds, who acted as my go-betweens.

It transpired that the season would consist of matinee performances from Tuesday to Saturday inclusive, and two shows on Sunday evenings. On this occasion I had to take my hat off to Parnes for his reasoning in having matinees for five days of the week. He felt – and he was proven to be right – that youngsters on holiday with their parents were more likely to want to spend an afternoon watching their favourite pop idols, as opposed to being tied to their parent’s apron strings whilst building sandcastles, or spending hours in the penny arcade.

With the Yarmouth summer season only a matter of weeks away, my group The Quite Three and I were busy doing the odd one-nighter and putting more of a pop variety act together. Songs such as Lonnie Donegan’s San Miguel, Emile Ford’s What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For?, Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill, Ricky Nelson’s It’s Late!, Conway Twitty’s It’s Only Make Believe, Lonnie Donegan’s Puttin’ On The Style, Jimmy Rodgers’ Kisses Sweeter Than Wine and Elvis Presley’s Treat Me Nice gave me a balanced act, featuring comedy, patter and guitar – with my playing piano rounding it off. I couldn’t wait to get started.

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About Vintage Rock

'Maybe Tomorrow?’ No, the new issue of Vintage Rock is out now and stars... Billy Fury! Our 20-page special includes an interview with his latter-day backing band Fury’s Tornados and Vince Eager recalls his part in the landmark new album ‘The Symphonic Sound Of Fury’. We also hear from The Beach Boys’ Mike Love and Bruce Johnston about how the legendary band made the transition from doo-wop-influenced rock’n’rollers to symphonic pop geniuses. Our Classic Album is ‘In Style With The Crickets’, an amazing triumph following the tragic death of Buddy Holly. We talk exclusively to Gary ‘US’ Bonds about his early days cutting hot R&B in Virginia, his comeback with Bruce Springsteen and his return to live shows. With a new CD and biography released, we revisit the career of Wee Willie Harris, British rock’n’roll’s strangest and smallest star. PLUS! We talk to the folks building and revamping 50s Jukeboxes, we hand-pick Sam Cooke’s Top 20 hits and speak to Jerry Lee’s sister Linda Gail Lewis. In our live reviews, we head to the Wildest Cats In Town weekender where Charlie Gracie reined supreme, plus there’s a memorable doo-wop reunion in London. And we visit the world of Rockabilly-Radio online.