By Steve Walker - Bill0666@aol.com - July 30, 2005
Born Roy Taylor, 4 June, 1940, Grantham, Lincolnshire, UK
Roy Taylor was one of many converts to the skiffling craze of 1956/57. He
and some friends formed the Vagabonds Skiffle Group in their home town
of Grantham, Lincolnshire (famous in later years as the birthplace of Prime
Minister, Margaret Thatcher). Their hero was Lonnie Donegan - the Vagabonds
were playing "Rock Island Line" on stage within four days of hearing it for
the first time and as each Donegan record was released, so their repertoire
increased. Roy became such a fan that he booked to see Lonnie twelve times
in one week when he made his debut at the Nottingham Empire. Due to Roy's
persistence he was invited into Lonnie's dressing room after the Wednesday
second house show and it was subsequently arranged for the Vagabonds to play
for Lonnie on the Saturday morning at the theatre. Upon hearing them, Lonnie
was so impressed he encouraged them to turn professional.
In 1958, the Vagabonds (Brian 'Liquorice' Locking on bass, Roy Clark on
guitar and vocals, Mick Fretwell on washboard and drums and Roy Taylor on
guitar and lead vocal) entered the grandly-named World Skiffle Championships
(there weren't too many entries from outside the UK) which saw them reach
the televised final on BBC Television's "Come Dancing". A disappointing
second place did not deter the boys and they were offered a residency at the
famous 2 I's Coffee Bar in London's West End. It was not long before they
were booked by pop Svengali Larry Parnes, manager of Tommy Steele and
Marty Wilde, for a Sunday concert in Coventry.
Following the concert Parnes offered Roy Taylor a management deal. It
involved Roy changing his name. Parnes considered that Roy was very eager
to get on and decided on Eager as his last name. The first name choice was
offered to Roy. One of his favourite performers was Gene Vincent and so
Roy chose Vince.
This was followed by a tour and the making of an extended play record,
"Vince Eager & The Vagabonds" for Decca (see discography below). Roy
Clark and Mick Fretwell returned to Grantham and bass player Liquorice
Locking remained in London in search of his personal fame which he eventually
found as a member of the Shadows, who he joined as bass guitar replacement
for Jet Harris in April 1962.
Vince Eager became a familiar face on TV, appearing on shows such as
"Six-Five Special", "Oh Boy" and "Drumbeat". Whilst his recording career
was dogged by the conflict which was to develop between him and Larry
Parnes, Vince did release a number of singles on Parlophone, Top Rank
and Piccadilly between 1958 and 1963.
Vince toured the UK with various package shows, featuring such stars as
Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Marty Wilde, Jerry Lee Lewis and Billy Fury.
On that fateful Easter Day in 1960 which resulted in the death of Eddie
Cochran, Vince was waiting at Heathrow Airport to travel to the US with
Eddie and Gene Vincent. Due to the tragic circumstances of the fatal car
accident, Vince's trip to America had to be cancelled, so we will never
know how successful he might have been.
Vince began to wonder why he had never received any record royalties.
"You're not entitled to any," Larry Parnes told him. "But it says in my
contract that I am," Eager protested. "It also says I have power of
attorney over you, and I've decided you're not getting any," Parnes replied.
When Vince went to a lawyer, he found the contract was watertight and
the only thing he could do was refuse to work for four years until it ran out.
Which, eventually, was what he did.
In the years that followed the Parnes era, Vince was kept busy on the
British and overseas cabaret circuit, theatre and pantomime. He starred in
the Sir Laurence Olivier Award winning West End musical "Elvis" for five
In 1986 he took up residency in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where, for twelve
years, he became a Cruise Director on luxury American cruise ships.
In 2001, Vince was joined by Big Jim Sullivan and Wee Willie Harris on a
UK tour "Raised On Rock" which told the story of rock'n'roll in Great Britain
using music and reminiscences.
In October 2002, he fulfilled a lifetime's ambition by duetting on stage
with his hero, Lonnie Donegan, at the Royal Concert Theatre, Nottingham.
Lonnie introduced Vince as the kid who came to see him backstage at the
Empire during his first week in variety. "A snotty nose kid with a ukulele
in his hand." announced Lonnie. Maybe a snotty nose but no ukulele,
recalled Vince, but it made for good theatre. Together, Lonnie and Vince
sang "Bring A Little Water Sylvie" and "Midnight Special". A few days
later, on Sunday, 3 November, 2002, Lonnie sadly passed away.
In December 2003 Rollercoaster released "Yea! Yea! It's Vince Eager!", an
album covering every aspect of Vince's career from the 1957 recording of
"Money Honey" through to the 2003 recording of "No Other Baby".
Along with his wife Annette, Vince is now based in rural Nottinghamshire.
Vince's home site:
Five Days, Five Days/No More (Parlophone R 4482, October 1958)
When's Your Birthday, Baby?/Railroad Song (Parlophone R 4531, February 1959)
This Should Go On Forever/No Other Arms, No Other Lips (Parlophone
R 4550, May 1959)
Makin' Love/Primrose Lane (Top Rank JAR 191, September 1959)
Why/El Paso (Top Rank JAR 275, January 1960)
Lonely Blue Boy/ No Love Have I (Top Rank JAR 307, February 1960)
(I Wanna) Love My Life Away/I Know What I Want (Top Rank JAR 539,
The World's Loneliest Man/Created In A Dream (Top Rank JAR 593,
Anytime Is The Right Time/Heavenly (Piccadilly 7N 35110, 1963)
I Shall Not Be Moved/It's Only Make Believe (Piccadilly 7N 35157, 1963)
Vince Eager & The Vagabonds No. 1 (Decca DFE 6504, 1958) [tracks: Yea Yea;
Lend Me Your Comb; Soda Pop Pop; Gumdrop]
"Oh Boy!" (live) (Parlophone PMC 1072, 1958)
Vince's tracks: Buzz, Buzz, Buzz; Blue Ribbon Baby
Re-issued on EMI NUTM-13 (1978) and Music For Pleasure MFP 50462 (1979)
"Drumbeat" (Parlophone PMC 1101, 1959)
Vince's tracks: It's Late; This Should Go On Forever; Good Rockin' Tonight;
It Doesn't Matter Anymore
Re-issued on EMI NUTM-20 (1978)
"Vince Eager Pays Tribute To Elvis" (Avenue AVE 093, 1971)
Heartbreak Hotel; All Shook Up; I Want You, I Need You, I Love You; Hound
Dog; Don't Be Cruel; Anyway You Want Me; Your Cheatin' Heart; Big Hunk O'
Love; Jailhouse Rock; Love Me Tender; Too Much; It's Now Or Never
[Re-issued on CD, 2004]
"Oh Boy" CD JGOB 1007 (bootleg re-issue of Parlophone L.P., 1996)
"Raised on Rock" (Charley Farley, 2001)
Recorded live during the 2001 UK tour.
Featuring Big Jim Sullivan, Wee Willie Harris, the Reunion Orchestra and the
I Believe; Be-Bop-A-Lu-La; Gumdrop; Lend Me Your Comb; Teenager in Love;
Maybe Tomorrow; Halfway To Paradise; Three Steps To Heaven; Somethin' Else;
Cut Across Shorty; Summertime Blues; It's Only Make Believe; That's Alright
Mama; Heartbreak Hotel; Hound Dog; All Shook Up; American Trilogy;
"Yea! Yea! It's Vince Eager!" (Rollercoaster Records RCCD 3058, 2003)
Gumdrop; Yea Yea; Money Honey; Be-Bop-A-Lu-La (1958); Cotton Fields; This
Should Go On Forever; Lend Me Your Comb; Soda Pop Pop; Tread Softly
Stranger; Elvis Medley: Loving You, Hound Dog, Teddy Bear, Jailhouse Rock;
Yes Tonight Josephine; A Big Hunk Of Love; It Doesn't Matter Anymore; Any
Way You Want Me; All Shook Up; It's Only Make Believe; Dream Lover; Oh Boy;
Love Me Tender; Hound Dog; No Other Baby; Hallelujah I Love Her So;
Be-Bop-A-Lu-La (2003); Midnight Special; Heart As Big As A Mountain.
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