Here’s a clip featuring British rockabilly outfit Vince Taylor & The Playboys’ 1958 hit “Brand New Cadillac” famously covered by the Clash on their 1979 double album London Calling. One thing that this song proved was that by ’79, the Clash had left behind all of the pretensions of the punk year-zero ethic, and discovered their inner teddy boy.
Vince Taylor was an original teddy boy (or “ted”), born in Isleworth England in 1939. Taylor’s own career would be tarnished and celebrated in equal measure as a minor figure in European pop music who would be remembered for more than his music. Taylor had made a name for himself touring France in the early ’60s, associating himself with the same scene French rock n’ roll star, Johnny Hallyday. Taylor was known for his erratic behaviour both on stage and off, which culminated in an episode on stage in which he was caught up in a drug-fuelled religious outpouring, declaring himself a prophet, and effectively ending any hope of a wider career – a bona fide rock n’ roll suicide. Taylor spent the rest of his life living in Switzerland, dying in 1991 at the age of 52.
Apart from the Clash connection, Taylor also inspired another major figure in rock – David Bowie, who allegedly based his Ziggy Stardust persona and song character on Taylor, the “leper Messiah” swallowed up by the excesses and pressures of pursuing the life of a would-be rock star.