Think of original rock ‘n’ roller Gene Vincent and you’re bound to think of ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula.’ You might call to mind his tragically early death at the age of just 36, or the affectionate 1977 tribute to him by avowed fan Ian Dury, ‘Sweet Gene Vincent.’ But what about Gene’s other hit? On 19 August 1957, he entered the American singles chart with what became his only other US top 20 success.
The song was ‘Lotta Lovin,’’ which became a Capitol single after Vincent and his Blue Caps had performed ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula’ on the big screen in the Jayne Mansfield movie The Girl Can’t Help It. That picture was the rock ‘n’ roll vehicle that also had song cameos for Eddie Cochran, Little Richard and Fats Domino, among others.
Vincent’s follow-up to ‘Be-Bop,’ the track ‘Race With The Devil,’ spent one week on the charts at a measly No. 96; the next four didn’t make the bestsellers at all. Then came ‘Lotta Lovin,’’ which was unusual for the time in being written by a woman, Bernice Bedwell. She reportedly played it over the phone for Gene, who later also recorded her songs ‘Lonesome Boy’ and ‘In My Dreams.’ ‘Lotta Lovin’’ went on to be covered by Don McLean, Jeff Beck and many others.
The original climbed Billboard’s various charts in an era when the Hot 100 was still more than a year away from inception. In September ‘57, the song reached No. 13 on Best Sellers In Stores, peaking one place lower on Top 100 Sides two weeks later. It was backed with ‘Wear My Ring,’ co-written by Bobby Darin.
Sadly for such an important figure in the early days of rock ‘n’ roll, Gene Vincent would only make one more US singles chart appearance. He died from a ruptured stomach ulcer in 1971, but was remembered by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted him in 1998. To quote Ian Dury: white face, black shirt, white socks, black shoes…there was only one Gene Vincent.
‘Lotta Lovin’’ is on Gene Vincent’s Capitol Collectors Series compilation, which can be bought here.