Gene Vincent's Wildman Guitarists

Article excerpt

GENE VINCENT'S GUITARISTS, Cliff Gallup and Johnny Meeks broke the rules while they were writing the book. There were few rock and roll guitarists to copy in the mid '50s, so they blazed a path for others to follow. Considering that vincent came from Norfolk, Virginia, not a music mecca like Nashville, Memphis, New York, or Los Angeles, it's a miracle he discovered two phenomenal guitarists within miles of his hometown.

Gallup, who passed away in '88, recorded and toured with Vincent for seven months in '56. He recorded 31 songs with the Blue Caps, including Vincent's biggest hit, "Be Bop A Lula." "cliff played by ear," says Doris Gallup, Cliff's widow. "He'd listen to a song once and play it. He could do anything--country, pop, gospel. He loved music. I always told him it was his first love."

Gallup quit the Blue Caps because he didn't like to tour. "He couldn't stand being away from home," Doris remarks. "Sleeping in a car or motel wasn't his cup of tea. I quit my job and traveled with him for six or eight weeks. Finally I said, 'I've had enough. I'm going home.' Two weeks later he said, 'I'm coming home too.' The moment he got home, he started playing with local bands."

Cliff gigged at government installations and country clubs around Norfolk for the next 32 years. "He would sit in with gospel groups whenever they needed a guitar player," Doris remembers. "He wouldn't charge them anything. The night before he passed away, he played with the HiFives."

Gallup played on only one other LP, the extremely rare Straight Down The Middle. …