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Individual Blue
Cap Members

The Blue Caps

LINE-UP HISTORY


April to September 1956 Pictured above, left to right:
Cliff Gallup - lead guitar
Willie Williams - rhythm guitar
Gene Vincent - vocals
Dickie Harrell - drums
Jack Neal - acoustic bass

In September, Williams quits and returns to his job in studio band at WCMS.

September to November 1956
Paul Peek joins on rhythm guitar and just before departure to film "The Girl Can't Help It" movie. Cliff Gallup quits to return to a quieter life at home. Russell Willaford stands in to mime lead guitar in the film. Returning to Nashville to record again, Cliff Gallup agreed to play the sessions, and then quit for good. In November, for a Canadian tour and a residency at the Sands Hotel, Las Vegas (which was terminated early because the band was too successful at diverting attention away from the tables), lead guitar was played by DJ Teddy Crutchfield.

March to December 1957
Gene decides he wants backing vocalists in the band, so Paul Peek drops guitar and Tommy Facenda joins to form a backing vocal duo, "The Clapper Boys" as Gene dubbed them. Bill Mack joins on bass guitar, and Johnny Meeks on lead guitar. After rehearsals, they play a package tour of Ohio in April, then Bobby Lee Jones then replaces Bill Mack on bass guitar. They tour extensively, including Hawaii, Fiji and Australia, and all over the States. In November, they appear live on the Ed Sullivan Show with new 17 year old rhythm guitarist Max Lipscomb. Just before this, Dickie Harrell quit, and was replaced for a few dates by Dude Kahn (Sonny James' drummer), until Dickie is persuaded to return. They play an Alan Freed package show in NY. In late December, Max Lipscomb quits to return to school, and Paul Peek and Tommy Facenda leave to pursue solo careers.

January to April 1958:
Cliff Simmons joins on piano and Grady Owen on rhythm guitar and after more touring, Dickie Harrell quits for good in March. For recording sessions and a film appearance in the "Hot Rod Gang" movie in March, Paul Peek and Tommy facenda are persuaded to return, but Dickie Harrell refuses, and 15 year old Juvez Gomez comes in on drums. More touring...leading to Johnny Meeks, Bobby Lee Jones and Juvez Gomez quitting the band.

May to July 1958:
With a 40 date Canadian tour booked, Max Lipscomb on rhythm guitar, Dude Kahn on drums, and new guitarist Howard Reed join up, with Grady Owen taking over bass guitar. With the tour underway, Dude Kahn split, to be replaced by D J Fontana. Gene decided he wanted some more clapper boys, so Grady Owen and Max Lipscomb switched to this role and Bill Mack returned on bass. This line-up lasted just that tour.

Mid-September to mid-November 1958:
Grady Owen** on bass guitar and Johnny Meeks on lead guitar return, and the final line-up includes Cliff Simmons, who is still in there on piano, plus newcomer Clyde Pennington on drums. They gig, and cut the final records in October, supplemented in the studio by sax players Jackie Kelso and Plas Johnson. They play a few more gigs, and Gene does a "bunk" allegedly owing the band money. The ignominious end of the greatest ever rock 'n' roll band. -courtesy Derek Henderson


Pix
Early Blue Caps with Russell Wilaford, who never played lead guitar on records. Russell was seen, however, in "The Girl Can't Help It" movies and folks thought he was Cliff Gallup.

**We are currently working with Grady's nephew Chris, trying to locate and gather more information on him for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.


Max Lipscomb (a/k/a Scotty McKay) publicity shot.


Willie

WILLIE WILLIAMS. courtesy Britt Hagarty. Willie recalls vividly his first night playing with Gene (before any records were cut): "He came up wearing a cast and sang "Be Bop A Lula" and all the chicks went nuts.""Wee" Willie takes a view of Gene's sudden success and sums it up quite articulately: "Vincent was easy to work with and knew exactly what he was doing. From the minute I met him I found him to be agreeable. There was no arrogance or egotism. He was a guy from relative humble beginnings who was a little bewildered by his sudden success. I thought he handled it pretty well. Though I seem to recall he spent a lot of money."

Willie has fond memories of his days with the Blue Caps: "Gene was very friendly. People were always looking for someone who'd act outrageous, but he didn't. He was just a good guy. On stage, Gene was a stylist and a communicator. And very exciting. Offstage, Gene would have a beer or two, but he was more interested in the ladies. Cliff was quiet, the kind of guy you wouldn't fool with. He was a no-nonsense person. But Dickie was my favorite. He was innocent, a thoroughly fine young man, a good cat."

When Willie Williams quit, a guitarist named Teddy Crutchfield came up from Norfolk to replace him.


Lead Guitarist Jerry Lee Merritt. (photo: Adrian White 1993)
Jerry played on the August '59 Capitol Tower sessions which became the "Crazy Times" album, and wrote "She She Little Sheila" (which was a hit single in the UK). He then toured Japan with Gene in the first ever Rock 'N' Roll tour there, to great acclaim, during which tour Gene left for home, leaving Jerry to impersonate Gene for the remaining dates (the Japanese not being able to tell the difference presumably!). This is a true story, confirmed with him during the tour the photograph was taken on. He later wrote "Hurtin' For You Baby" & "Born To Be A Rollin' Stone" for Gene, recorded on the Challenge sessions, and played on the '68 demos, writing "Green Grass," that lead to John Peel (a famous English DJ) signing Gene to his Dandelion label, resulting in the "I'm Back And I'm Proud" album. Jerry was a big hit on the 1993 tour, where he opened for The Blue Caps. Merritt was also on 1996 mini California tour.
JERRY LEE MERRITT - Has his complete page within the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.



"AFTER CRAZY TIMES WITH GENE" CD released by Jerry in 1993. Material is from the 1960s. Rockhouse MIDCD 9215.




CLIFF GALLUP Original lead guitarist for The Blue Caps.


JOHNNY MEEKS
Legendary lead guitarist for The Blue Caps.


DICKIE HARRELL
Original drummer for The Blue Caps.


TOMMY FACENDA
Original Clapper Boy for The Blue Caps.


PAUL PEEK
Rhythm Guitarist and Clapper Boy for The Blue Caps .
Plus Paul has a great solo career. Note recent review.


BOBBY JONES
Bassist for The Blue Caps.



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