I first discovered Brit rockabilly wildman Vince Taylor when I saw him and his band in some French Scopitones. I was blown away by his over-the-top stage moves and fetishy black leather outfit. The cat was ultra-cool in a synthetic sort of way, a simulacrum composed of bits and pieces of Elvis, Gene Vincent and interstellar tonup boy. Vince had a string of hits and was a mega-star in France. But, LSD, alcohol, and being absolutely convinced he was Jesus, brought Taylor’s musical life to a loopy end.
Vince Taylor may have lost it (or found IT), but before he flamed out he managed to record two of the best rockabilly songs ever recorded, Jet Black Machine and Brand New Cadillac (later covered by The Clash). He was the inspiration for David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust persona and provided the fashion proto-type for Elvis circa 1968. He opened for the Rolling Stones, copped his first hit of acid at a party for Bob Dylan and slept with Brigitte Bardot. Morrissey used footage of Taylor dancing as a visual backdrop during his 2007 tour.
Vince’s moment of fame may have been brief but it was action-packed and he left an indelible jet black impression.
In this fascinating BBC documentary, Taylor’s story is told by his former drummer (the wonderfully animated Bobbie Clarke), David Bowie and people who helped guide his brief but amazing career. Enjoy.