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All the musicians who accompanied Gene Vincent throughout his career were the best of his time, Cliff Gallup, Johnny Meeks, Dickie Harrel, etc. But there is one, who was part of the second Blue Caps formation to whom I have a special affection, the great Paul Peek.

Peek joined Gene Vincent’s band as a substitute for its rhythm guitar Wee Willie Williams, but like all the musicians who were part of the Blue Caps he was not just any musician. Paul Peek was a very talented musician, excellent singer and a very good guitarist. In 1956 Paul was due to join Lefty Frizzel’s band as a steel guitar, but a chance encounter with Gene Vincent who was at the top of the charts with “Be Bop a Lula”, made the young Peek end up being part of the Blue Caps.

He appeared alongside Vincent in the movie “The Girl Can’t Help It”, playing “Be Bop a Lula”, in the scene of the movie Peek is to the left of Vincent with a red acoustic guitar. Vincent was aware of his lack of mobility due to his leg injury that forced him to wear a brace, and told Peek to move like Elvis so that the performance, which was also in playback, was more dynamic. The result was that Paul Peek totally monopolized the camera and made the scene mythical.

Paul Peek participated in the recording of such emblematic songs from Vincent’s repertoire as “Unchained Melody”, “Cat Man” and “B-I-Bickey Bi Bo Bo Go” 0 “Pink Thunderbird”, the latter composed by Peek. He also achieved a singular honour as a member of the band when, in the fall of 1956, Vincent ended up recording one of Peek’s songs. He also appeared with Vincent in another movie, Hot Rod Gang. Paul Peek was with the Blue Caps until Gene Vincent stopped accompanying them in the late 1950s.

Parallel to his years as a member of the Blue Caps, Peek developed a very interesting solo career, releasing more than 14 singles between the late 1950s and the 1960s.

Peek made it onto the charts with “Brother-in-Law”, a song in response to Ernie K-Doe’s “Mother-In-Law”. As a soloist, he recorded a wide range of styles, R’n’B with New Orleans, Rock & Roll, Northern Soul, Country, Rockabilly, High School style ballads, etc…. In addition to all the aforementioned Paul Peek was responsible for Esquerita getting a contract on Capitol Records, Peek discovered Esquerita while playing in a seedy club and was so impressed that he made him record some demos on a Greenville radio station (WESC) around 1958. At the time, Peek was a member of the Blue Caps, which had a contract with Capitol Records. From these contacts and the influence of Paul Peek with Capitol Records came a record contract for Esquerita. Peek even co-wrote the song “The Rock-Around” with Esquerita, who played the piano on the recording.

Paul Peek was the first artist to record for the NRC (National Recording Corporation) label, this label released the single “The Rock Around” in 1958.

Unfortunately, Peek never made it to the top, his alcohol problems took its toll and escalated over the years.

In the 1980s he joined Blue Caps for a tour of Europe, it was in those years that he met Jeff Beck. Peek and Beck became mutual admirers, Beck also recorded “Pink Thunderbird” on their Crazy Legs album.

Peek’s last years were difficult, his alcohol consumption had worsened and he had lost an eye in a car accident. His health began to worsen in the late 1990s and he died of liver cirrhosis in 2001.

Juanmy “The Hunter”

This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)

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