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The True (-ish) leg-end of

Vince & the Viletones

Vince & the Viletones, legendary forgotten 50’s rockers or …. ?

Vince & the Viletones
The following is the original biog/press release that appeared when it was announced the ‘Tones had reformed (well that’s what reform school does for you!) and were about to bring out a CD, ‘The Incomplete Vince & the Viletones’.
The identity of the author is lost in the mists of wine, sorry, ‘time’ so apologies for that, but get in touch whoever you are and we’ll rectify the situation, or in other words, shift the blame onto you!
The Incomplete Vince & the Viletones
“What can you say about Vince & the Viletones? Well, not a lot as it happens, because if it’s anything they don’t like, they’ll ‘send the boys round’! Suffice to say this collection is long overdue. It claims to be their entire recorded output, but you never know with the Viletones, there might be other stuff out there waiting to take us all by surprise.

Their manager Sammy ‘the Stoat’ Simmonds did a bunk with all their early recordings, and while it’s generally believed that both he and all their stuff disappeared after a mysterious fire that destroyed his house, it’s not inconceivable that some as yet undiscovered gems may surface.

Since the early days at ‘The Two I’s’ and Lewisham Town Hall, and despite an enforced break of many years, they’ve been pumping out their own brand of Rock ’n Roll pretty much as it was back then: very, very loud and brash with plenty of attitude. That attitude was wont to spill over on many occasions, and tales of their onstage fights are legendary.

The years have not mellowed them one iota, although they have slowed them down somewhat, so the violence is strictly verbal these days. The Viletones appeared to have everything going for them in the late fifties, but a mixture of bad management, lurid behaviour on and offstage, and their insistence on covering only B-sides meant that they never hit the heights that were expected of them in their hey-day. But the vigour and panache with which they performed won them a huge following. If it hadn’t been for the now notorious ‘Bathroom Wall Incident’, and Vince Vaccarri’s subsequent detention at Her Majesty’s Pleasure, one suspects they would now be rivalling Original Comets as the act for the older generation of rockers to catch live.

Once in a while they bury their differences and sling on the red guitars, shades and leopard skins, and show all the snotty-nosed boy-bands how to do it, but those times are becoming as rare as hens’ teeth. If you can get to see them, you’ll be doing their bank balance a good turn and yourself a big favour. If not, cough up, stand up, turn it up, and enjoy the racket that is……..Vince & the Viletones.”
Now … question! Did you believe:
A: Some of that? B: All of it? or C: None of it?

If your answer was A:- you need help
If your answer was B:- you are beyond help!
The correct answer is C.

The real Viletones leg-end goes like this:-
Once upon a time I was on South Congress Avenue in Austin Texas, perusing the somewhat odd garments on offer in a hip clothes store called ‘Lucy In Disguise.’ My eyes were drawn to a rail bearing pink leopard-skin jackets. For some inexplicable reason, probably brought on by the copious amounts of Tequila consumed … I had to have them! So I parted with the requisite number of dollars and left the store laden with pink jackets that were way too warm to wear in Texas. They returned to the UK with me, and took up residence in my closet. And there the story ends for a while.

Over the next few years various artists from the Lone Star State and occasionally Gnashville pitched up in the UK looking for a back-up band for a European tour. Or more exactly looking for MY band, on account of the fact that we’d toured and recorded in the US ourselves and were noted as being pretty much up to the task … and cheap! These tours would always include radio spots throughout Europe and the occasional TV show. One of the regular tour stops was the Mary Costello Show on a London radio station. After we’d done the show several times backing various US acts, we were eventually invited onto the show in our own right. It was pretty well received and we were asked back a couple more times, and then Mary asked us to do the Christmas show. Now, anyone familiar with my songs knows that although not especially gloomy they ain’t exactly festive either. So … enter the shades, the pink leopard-skin jackets and the VILETONES. The story of the fifties band reuniting was invented and we strung together some obscure Rock ’n Roll Xmas songs. The cast was as follows:

Vince Vaccarri: Vocals, rhythm guitar … Ian ‘Barty’ Bartholomew
Vince Black: Lead Guitar, vocals … Wesley McGhee
Rev. Vince Charles: Bass … John Gordon
Vince Morris: drums … Maurice McElroy
Al ‘Doc’ Phibes: saxes … Al Stewart
Eddie Jones: piano … Simon Webb

And we were joined by honorary Viletone Patty Vetta to add harmony vocals. Eddie Jones was replacing his father, Vince Jones, who was indisposed for various and possibly suspect reasons. The real reason was Simon looked a bit younger than the rest of us and could no way pass as a fifties rocker!

But … it being the festive season, we were presented with a problem. Our main singer Barty (Ian Bartholomew) is also an actor and was currently appearing in ‘Into The Woods’ in the West End. The radio show was broadcast live on a Saturday which meant Barty, having a matinee and an evening show at the theatre, could only get to the radio station between times. This meant he had to leave early and we had to come up with a reason for his departure.

We did our first couple of Xmas songs but when the next cue came up for us to play we tore into the old instrumental ‘Raunchy”. At a given point Vince Vaccarri cut in to the performance complaining loudly that there was no singing on this piece. An argument broke out with the rest of us shouting that this was ‘an instrumental, it had always been an instrumental, and it had never, never had words!’ Whereupon Vince Vaccarri stormed out of the building. ON LIVE RADIO!!!
Of course, this was all preplanned and the radio station were happy with it, but it didn’t stop a flood of listeners’ complaints about the ‘appalling behaviour live on the wireless’.

This was followed by an interview with Vinces Black and Morris, revealing the whole sorry story of how Vaccarri’s behaviour over several decades had blighted the band’s career. Stories of the days at the Two I’s, where the likes of Terry Dean and Wee Willie Harris had stolen their thunder, and so on …and so on!
We played a couple more Xmas songs and put away the shades and pink jackets, thinking this would be the Viletones one and only outing, with only listeners to the radio having seen them. (ed. - Is this right?)

But it was not to be: we were asked to do a couple of gigs around New Year! It seemed reasonable to reprise the Xmas songs, and we dug out some old R ’n R, classics, ’Mohair Sam’, ‘Sunglasses After Dark’, ‘Hot Dog’ and several others. The gigs were really well received … and one or two perceptive punters finally realised that the Viletones were actually the Wes McGhee Band.
Wes Mcghee

Vince Black

Not too long after the gigs we headed up to BTM Studios in Bedford, run by my old mate Arthur Anderson. Arthur and I started our first studio in North London way back when mixing desks were still driven by coal. It was known as ‘The Attic” because it was … well … an attic, but now Arthur had moved on and set up BTM Studios near Bedford, where the ‘Tones were headed. We recorded a whole bunch of songs in one afternoon. All the takes were completely live.

We took these recordings plus the tapes of the radio show (with permission) and put together an album. I was back in Texas so Barty and Arthur edited and compiled it, adding audience and Vince Vaccarris’ belligerent introductions on a few tracks. The album ran to 21 tracks - it’s amazing how short most old rock ’n roll songs are!

Here’s the full track list, along with the imaginary albums they are taken from.

The Incomplete Vince & the Viletones

From ‘Live At The Time’
1. Raunchy (inst.)
2. Dynamite (voc. Vaccarri)
3. Tequila (inst.)
4. Farmer John (voc. Vaccarri & Charles)
5. Sunglasses After Dark (voc. Vaccarri)

From ‘Vile Christmas’
6. Christmas Comes But Once A Year (voc. Vaccari)
7. Blue Christmas (voc. Black)
8. Wee Freakings (inst.)
9. Santa Claus Is Back In Town (voc. Black)
10. Boogie Woogie Santa Claus (voc. Vaccarri)

From ‘Rock and Parole’
11. Sleepwalk (inst.)
12. Hot Dog (voc,voc,voc,voc. Vaccarri)
13. Leavin’ It Up To You (voc. Vaccari/Black)
14. Mohair Sam (voc. Black)

From ‘…Plus Many More….’
15. Crazy Crazy Feelin’ (voc. Vaccarri)
16. No One Else Will Do (voc. Vaccarri)
17. C’mon Let’s Go (voc. Vaccarri)
18. Ain’t I’m A Dog (voc. Black)
19. Framed (voc. Black)
20. Justine (voc. Black/Vaccarri)
21. Lights Out (voc. Vaccarri)

Of course, the one thing we forgot to do with the album was to inflict it upon the general public, so it sits in the vaults along with the pink jackets and several pairs of shades!
Will there be a ‘Tones reunion?
Will the album ever be released?
And what happened to Sammy ‘the Stoat’ Simmonds?

These and many more ‘Tones related questions may never be satisfactorily answered. But should you spot a bunch of geriatric old farts armed with red guitars, sneaking in the back door of a club, dressed in pink leopard-skin jackets that seem way too tight … maybe you should check it out!

If you have any Viletones related questions, address them to this website and we will do our best to come up with a completely implausible answer!
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‘Tones (featuring Patty) dressed for radio!

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