We have attached two tracks from 1956 which feature two performers who were in the vanguard of those who created and birthed Rock & Roll Music.

Recording Date for “Race With The Devil” and “Be Bop A Lula”: May 4, 1956, Bradley Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN.

Vocal on both tracks by Vincent Eugene Craddock, a/k/a Gene Vincent, age 21, from Norfolk, VA. Lead Guitar on both tracks by Cliff Gallup, age 26, from Norfolk, VA., at that time an unknown musician. Gallup played a Gretsch 6128 “Duo Jet” solid body electric guitar, fitted with a Bigsby Vibrato tailpiece, plugged into a Standel 25L15 Amplifier (25 watts, one 15” speaker), with echo units constructed by Gallup from old tape recorder parts.

Gallup’s amazing lead guitar work on these two tracks demonstrate why many look to him as the most talented, imaginative, influential and versatile electric guitarist in the history of Rock & Roll.

In February, 1956, Gene Vincent entered a talent contest in Norfolk VA. He won the contest, and was immediately signed a management contract with a Norfolk D.J. whose “radio name “ was “Sheriff Tex Davis” ( real name: William Douchette ). Davis put together a band of local musicians to back Vincent. This band included Norfolk guitarist Cliff Gallup. Davis named the act “Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps”. The group recorded a demo that Davis sent to Capitol records. The label invited the band to come to Nashville to audition, and possibly record. It was Capitol’s policy to record any new artist with backing by only the best session musicians available, and those players were in the studio on May 4, 1956. The story goes that when the Capitol record producer and the session musicians heard the Norfolk band and Gallup play during the audition, they put their instruments back in their cases and encouraged Vincent and the Blue Caps to record with no assistance from them. The session pros were blown away by Gallup’s technique and creativity. He used a flat pick held in his thumb and forefinger, and two finger picks on his middle and ring fingers, leaving his little finger to manipulate the vibrato bar.

On the strength of his playing on this first session in Nashville, Gallup could easily have become a session guitarist in Nashville, Los Angeles or New York. In fact, Capitol offered to sign him as a session guitarist. Gallup politely declined. He was a family man with a day job in Norfolk. He didn’t want to move, and he did not want to tour with Vincent. He recorded one more time with Vincent in Nashville after the May 1956 date, then returned to Norfolk, working for and later retiring from a local school system in Norfolk, as Director of Maintenance and Transportation, after many years of employment. Gallup played for his own pleasure all of the years of his life, playing small dates and venues in the Norfolk area with a few musician friends. He performed at a local spot with a group called the “HI-FIs” two days before his sudden death of a heart attack at age 58.

Vincent was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. Cliff Gallup was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.
Rock on!

Race With The Devil – Gene Vincent – Capitol 3530 (1956)
Be Bop A Lula – Gene Vincent – Capitol 3450 (1956)

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