Part III. An American in Paris: 1961 – 1965

The Bobbie Woodman Noise were contacted to play the British rock and roll festival headlining Wee Willie Harris, at Paris Olympia, France, on July 7th and 8th 1961. The other artists were Dave Sampson, Duffy Power, Vince Eager and Nero & The Gladiators with Tony on lead. Vince Taylor went back to England about that time and replaced Duffy Power who turn up late during a gig in Guilford. He then asked, considering that he had never been to France, if he could come to Paris too and if necessary he would sing for free. It was whilst registering Vince's passport for France that Woodman found that Taylor was not actually american as he pretended to be but english, like the rest of the band.
During the sound check, at The Olympia, Vince Taylor dressed up for the occasion in his black leather gear and added a chain around his neck with a Joan of Arc medallion which he had bought on arrival in Calais, France. As a result, the organisers, who were so impressed, decided to put him up as top of the bill for both shows.
During his performance at those two shows, he was spotted by Bruno Coquatrix, manager of the Olympia, who contacted French A&R, Eddie Barclay.

Barclay signed Vince and his band to a six-year record deal on his label that issued 5 EP's and one LP from September 1961 to January 1962. He suggested Bobbie Woodman to change his name, and this latter renamed himself “Bobbie Clarke”.In the interval, Tony Harvey was finally convinced by Vince and Bobbie to start up the group again, knowing how to keep the same style. The two guitarists alternated their duties: Bob Steele went on to rythm guitar whilst Tony took solo.
Barclay imposed Vince Taylor & the Playboys in one of the first International rock and roll festivals on August 15th 1961 at 'Le Vieux Colombier' in Juan les Pins, a tiny club where the upper crust got in. Vince and his lads then went to all the top parties in Paris. They toured The French Riviera, Belgium, Spain, and The Netherlands. They released their debut album 'Le Rock c'est ça' in late 1961 in which they covered ten Rock’n’Roll classics such as Eddie Cochran’s “20 Flight Rock” and “C'mon Everybody” or Johnny Kidd’s “Shaking All Over”.

Although Vince Taylor's concerts start to take a bad turn. On November 18th, riots of kids wearing black leather jackets broke out during a rock and roll festival at the Palais des Sports, in Paris. Hooligans in the audience started breaking chairs before Vince and his band even got on stage. As a result, the promoters got worried and Vince soon became banned in certain French towns.

In spite of this Vince Taylor & the Playboys were the top of the bill at the Olympia, Paris, for the end of the year between December 27th 1961 and January 15th 1962.
From April the 24th to May 26th 1962, they played in a posh club in Pigalle 'Les Folies Pigalle', where an opening for a revue 'Twist Appeal' or 'Eroticism of the 20th Century' was to make a resounding success. A 2 hour show in which Vince sang surrounded by gorgeous girls. Vince Taylor & the Playboys then went on a summer tour but Vince left for La Côte d'Azur with his new love, top model Helene April.
A few weeks later, Vince left once more during a gig at the Star Club, in Hambourg, and took the first plane to Paris in order to be near Helene April.

By the end of 1962, the Playboys had fallen out with Vince Taylor who played engagements backed by the English band "The Dragons" (wherever he played, Vince still presented them as the Playboys).
By October 1962, Bobbie Woodman became the drummer for Johnny Hallyday & the Golden Stars. Bob Steel joined Jacky Lynton.
Meanwhile Tony Harvey and Johnny Vance decided to follow the career of The Playboys with other musicans: pianist Joe Fegan and drummers Ed Sparrow then Don Hawkins.
About that time, Vince started to play dressed from head to toe in leather, but white.

In early 1964, the new set of Playboys featured Bobbie Woodman on drums, Joey Greco and Claude Djaoui on guitars, and Ralph Di Pietro on bass who were actually the members of the Johnny Hallyday orchestra, Joey & the Showmen. They recorded secretly with Vince his versions of Arthur Alexander's “shot of Rythm & Blues” and of Chuck Berry’s “Memphis Tenessee” that appeared on the single (Barclay #60446) released in february 1964.
Shortly thereafter, Johnny Hallyday was called up and the Showmen had split up. Joey Greco went back to America. Bobbie Woodman started up his own band again The Bobbie Clarke Noise with percussionist Stash Klossowski, painter Balthus’s son, Johnny Taylor on rythm guitar, Ralph Danks on lead guitar and Alain Bugby on bass both from the final line-up of Nero & The Gladiators and formerly with the Strangers alongside Taylor.
In May 1964, The Bobbie Clarke Noise teamed up again with Vince Taylor as his backing group. Managed by Jean Claude Camus, they were upgraded with two French musicians, Ivan Jullien (trumpet) and Bob Garcia (saxophone) and toured in province then supported The Rolling Stones at the Paris Olympia in early 1965.

After he had met folk singers Bob Dylan and Nico in London, Vince started taking drugs such as acid that he used to mix with alcohol…

On May 23th 1965, at 'La Locomotive' Club, Paris, Vince Taylor had a break down - coming on stage and trying to evangelize the audience, he claimed to be the prophet Matthew. But the audience thought that it was part of the shows as the band covered everything he was saying.

Soon after, Barclay published the LP “VINCE…!” that included instrumental number “Clank” and 8 other covered versions of American tunes. Vince Taylor’s last single released in the 60’s, “My Babe” c/w “Trouble” was an excerpt from this LP.
In mid 1965, Barclay stopped financing Vince Taylor who finally joined a religious movement and the band disbanded.


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