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Ziggy really sang, screwed up eyes and screwed down hairdo
May 3, 2009 12:53 PM   Subscribe

Of all the pretenders to the throne of "British Elvis" in the pre-Beatles UK music scene, none had the swagger or moves quite like Vince Taylor.

His stylings, pitched halfway between Gene Vincent and Pressley, found success in the early 60's, especially in France. The man who Joe Strummer described as "the beginning of British rock'n'roll," was on the verge of stardom in 1963, but already hooked on a cocktail of Preludin, speed, LSD and alcohol, he instead fell apart. Believing himself to be the apostle Matthew or the son of God, he gave sermons on stage while wrapped in a white sheet, ate only eggs, and carried around a map of Europe, trying to point out to people where the UFO's would land.

David Bowie, living in London in 1966, met and was transfixed by this already burnt out, drug addled heartthrob who had "fallen into a chasm too deep to ever climb out of." Inspired by the rock star who "thought he was some composite between the Son of God and an alien," he put pen to paper. The song? Ziggy Stardust.

From the late 1960's it was all downhill, and although Taylor emerged sporadically for various comebacks, a few albums (including 1972's "Vince is alive, well and rocking in Paris") his later years were for the most part a blur of incoherent performances on small scale tours and periods spent in religious communes and psychiatric wards. He died in 1991 after a short period working as an aircraft mechanic in Switzerland.

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Vince Taylor:

* There's a Whole Lotta Twistin' goin' on
* Shakin' All Over
* Peppermint Twist
* Too Much
* 20 Flight Rock
* What I'd Say
* Brand New Cadillac (audio only)
posted by fire&wings (15 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
With regards to "Come Back Baby Doll," the lyric "I'd rather see you dead little baby than messing with another man" is remarkably similar to a line from the Beatles' "Run for your life". Was the idea that it's better for a loved one to die rather than stray particularly common in sixties music?

Nice post, btw.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 1:37 PM on May 3, 2009


A female loved one, I should say.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 1:38 PM on May 3, 2009


With regards to "Come Back Baby Doll," the lyric "I'd rather see you dead little baby than messing with another man" is remarkably similar to a line from the Beatles' "Run for your life".

The line in Run for Your Life is "I'd rather see you dead little girl than to see you with another man." I think it's basically lifted verbatim from Elvis Presley's Baby Let's Play House.
posted by jonp72 at 1:49 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fascinating. Full-on full-body biker leather (complete with motorcycle much of the time) a full decade before Elvis' "Comeback Special."

Startling to see fetishism depicted so early, so openly in media.
posted by hippybear at 1:49 PM on May 3, 2009


Wow, interesting, heartbreaking and funny, in a quirky way. Nice post about an individual I knew nothing about.
posted by alteredcarbon at 1:56 PM on May 3, 2009


Was the idea that it's better for a loved one to die rather than stray particularly common in sixties music?

I don't know about a common, but an interesting song in that category is Paul Revere & the Raiders, Over You. The Raiders were forced to commercialize their sound, but they could bring it when they had to.
posted by jonp72 at 1:58 PM on May 3, 2009


Elvis's (well, Arthur Gunter's) line was "I'd rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man." Which presents some really interesting alternate readings in its fractured grammar.
posted by goatdog at 1:59 PM on May 3, 2009


Was the idea that it's better for a loved one to die rather than stray particularly common in sixties music?

"If I can't have you, nobody will" is a pretty ageless, if batshit, sentiment.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:03 PM on May 3, 2009


I just wanted to point out that the most famous cover of a Vince Taylor song is probably the Clash's version of Brand New Cadillac, off the album London Calling.
posted by jonp72 at 2:38 PM on May 3, 2009


great post and videos. Thanks :)
posted by vronsky at 4:42 PM on May 3, 2009


> Was the idea that it's better for a loved one to die rather than stray particularly common in sixties music?

> "If I can't have you, nobody will" is a pretty ageless, if batshit, sentiment.


Yeah, there are *tons* of blues songs with lyrics to this effect (eg. "Boom Boom Out Go The Lights").
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:35 PM on May 3, 2009


I know that Bowie has said publicly that Vince Taylor inspired Ziggy, but a lot of the lyrics fit Jimi Hendrix a lot more closely (played it left hand, jiving us that we were voodoo, boy could he play guitar).
posted by msalt at 10:03 PM on May 3, 2009


Bowie has said publicly that Vince Taylor inspired Ziggy, but

not to forget Marc Bolan among the 'buts,' notwithstanding that 'Lady Stardust' is the specific song. Within the context of the studio album, the songs are about the same character, and clearly that character is a composite. I only learned this year that Bolan was alive to see the success of the record, which must have been so, so weird.
posted by mwhybark at 10:11 PM on May 3, 2009


Great post!
posted by serazin at 8:52 AM on May 4, 2009


none had the swagger or moves

I'm not sure what Vince is doing in those clip, but it's not Elvis-like "swagger" or "moves." When Elvis moved, it was sexy; this guy looks like he's trying to shake a turd down his pants.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:24 PM on May 4, 2009


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