Say It's Your Birthday: Gene Vincent

Those of you who think Jim Morrison introduced leather

pants into the rock fashion lexicon are sadly mistaken. Morrison was nothing

more than a leather-come-lately. Jimbo stole the idea from Gerard Malanga, a

poet who danced with whips to accompany the Velvet Underground as part of Andy

Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable which Morrison witnessed at the Whisky

A-Go Go in Los Angeles before the first Door's album was even released. But

Malanga wasn't the source either. That honor belongs to Gene Vincent who looked

like one of rock's baddest boys (and was certainly among it's greasiest).

Vincent (born 1935 in Norfolk, VA) had destroyed one leg in a motorcycle

accident, and wrapping the near-useless limb in black leather somehow turned

his disability into something ominous. 'Course it helped that Gene Vincent and

the Blue Caps had music to back it up. Records liked "Be Bop A Lula," and "Race

With The Devil" were everything that made 1950's parents nervous about rock and

roll. Like so many of rock's first wave Vincent died broke and broken (of a

ruptured ulcer in 1971), but what he created in that short time--he put it all

together: the look, the sound, the attitude, the leather trousers--still

reverberates. Other birthdays today Songwriter Gerry Goffin, perennial Motor

City Rocker Scott Morgan, and Sergio Mendes with, no doubt, Brasil

'96.