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Cliff Gallup: Wikis


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Clifton[1] E. "Cliff" Gallup (June 17, 1930 - October 9, 1988) was an American electric guitarist, who played rock and roll in Gene Vincent's band The Blue Caps in the 1950s.

In February 1956, local radio DJ "Sheriff Tex Davis" (aka William Douchette, 1914-2007)[2] heard Gene Vincent performing at a talent show in Norfolk, Virginia, became his manager, and put together a band of local musicians to back him. These included Gallup, who had previously played in a local band called The Virginians, and who was older than Vincent and the other band members.[3] In May 1956, the band recorded in Nashville, Tennessee. Producer Ken Nelson had session musicians standing by in case the band was not up to par, but as soon as Gallup played the solos on "Race with the Devil" they knew they would not be needed[4].

Gallup played on 35 tracks with Vincent, including his biggest hit "Be-Bop-A-Lula", and established a reputation as one of the most technically proficient guitarists in early rock and roll. He used a flat pick in conjunction with fingerpicks on his middle and ring fingers, using his little finger to work the vibrato bar. According to one source, Gallup's trademark sound was produced by echo units he constructed himself from old tape recorder parts[4], but according to another source it was created in the studio by Nelson[1].

As a married man, Gallup was reluctant to tour with Vincent, and left the band in late 1956, returning only for some more studio sessions that same year for the second Gene Vincent & The Bluecaps LP. In the mid 1960s Gallup made a solo album for the local Pussy Cat record label in Norfolk, Straight Down the Middle, in a more mellow instrumental style akin to Chet Atkins and Les Paul. He occasionally played with local bands, while working in school maintenance. He played guitar up until the day he died. He last played in Norfolk with a group called the H-Lo's 48 hours before he suffered a fatal heart attack.

At the time of his death from a heart attack in 1988, he was the Director of Maintenance and Transportation for the Chesapeake, Virginia city school system, where he worked for almost 30 years. At the request of his widow, obituaries in local newspapers made no mention of his time with The Blue Caps. He is remembered principally for his influence on such guitarists as Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. The latter recorded an album of Gene Vincent songs, Crazy Legs, in 1993 considered by music critics to be a tribute to Gallup[5][6] and Vincent. [7]

Gallup was ranked 79th in Rolling Stone magazine list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time"[8]

Gallup is a Rockabilly Hall of Fame inductee.




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