Meaning of Be-Bop-a-Lula by Gene Vincent & The Story

This famous song made young Gene Vincent a mega-star. Recorded in 1956, the track became one of the first rockabilly hits and is considered the standard of the genre.

Be-Bop-A-Lula made a huge impression on the young Beatles and was one of the main numbers in their repertoire. Over the years, dozens of popular artists performed it. It is included in several authoritative lists of the best musical compositions.

The glorious history of the song Be-Bop-A-Lula is full of interesting events, impressive achievements and dark spots. It started in the hospital…

The story behind of Be-Bop-A-Lula by Gene Vincent

Officially, Gene Vincent and his manager Bill “Sheriff Tex” Davis are considered the authors of the work. However, many historians of modern music doubt that Sheriff Tex was really involved in the creation of the legendary song.

In 1955, twenty-year-old Vincent Eugene Craddock had an accident while riding a motorcycle. He seriously injured his leg and spent almost a year in a military hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia. There he became friends with Donald Graves (Donald Graves). Soon friends wrote this musical composition.

Jin claimed that they were inspired by the Little Lulu comic to write the lyrics to Be-Bop-A-Lula:

I came home dead drunk and collapsed on the bed. Don Graves and I were looking at this damn book called Little Lulu. And I said, “Damn, man, it’s Be-Bop-A-Lula.” And he said, “Yeah, man, that’s cool.” And we wrote this song.

Gene Vincent: There’s One in Every Town,
Mick Farren, 2004

Vincent recorded a demo of the track and sent it to Capitol Records. Bill Davis drew attention to her. He bought his share from Graves (allegedly for only twenty-five dollars) and identified himself as a co-author. He later insisted that he and Jin composed Be-Bop-A-Lula after listening to the song Don’t Bring Lulu.

However, several sources have denied Bill Davis’ account. The site published a detailed interview with a man who knew Gene from the aforementioned hospital. He said that the authors of the song are Vincent and Graves.

Dickie Harrell, drummer for The Blue Caps, also confirmed this version of the Be-Bop-A-Lula story:

Actually, the song was written by a guy from Portsmouth named Donald Graves.

Mojo 2000

He also spoke about the above twenty-five dollars, adding:

This often happened in those days. The guys agreed to the right money.

Mojo 2000

The meaning of the song Be-Bop-A-Lula

The phrase “be-bop-a-lula” may be bewildering to modern listeners, but in the forties of the twentieth century, such expressions did not surprise music lovers. Moreover, they were popular among jazz lovers. It is believed that they originated from the exclamation of Latin American musicians “Arriba! Arriba!” and later gave the name to the genre “bebop” (bebop).

An example is the song Be-Baba-Leba. It was first sung in 1945 by Helen Humes. The composition later became a hit in the version of Lionel Hampton (Lionel Hampton), who presented it as Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop.

What is Be-Bop-A-Lula about? A detailed analysis of the text is hardly needed to understand the general meaning of the composition. We are talking about a gorgeous woman with whom the main character is in love.

Recording and release of Be-Bop-A-Lula

Capital Records was looking for an Elvis Presley-like artist when Gene Vincent turned up. He was only a month younger than Elvis and gave the impression of the same rebel. Of course, the studio hastened to conclude a contract with a young performer.

Gene and The Blue Caps recorded Be-Bop-A-Lula on May 4, 1956 in Nashville. The song was released as the B-side of Vincent’s debut single. The producers chose the track Woman Love as the main composition.

However, American and British radio stations found it too provocative. The BBC banned it altogether. Then Capitol Records re-released the disc, changing the songs in places.

Within the first month, two hundred thousand copies were sold. The single reached the top ten of three Billboard charts and peaked at number sixteen in the UK charts.

A new version of Be-Bop-A-Lula was recorded by Gene Vincent in 1962. It was released on the back of the single The King of Fools.

In 2004, Rolling Stone listed Be-Bop-A-Lula as one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Video of Be-Bop-A-Lula by Gene Vincent

Check out the music video from The Girl Can’t Help It, in which Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps perform their biggest hit.

Be-Bop-A-Lula cover versions

The composition did not become a one-day hit. Numerous versions of popular musicians did not allow the public to forget about the track.

The Everly Brothers recorded Be-Bop-A-Lula in 1958 and included the track on an album named after the band.

Cliff Richard sang Be-Bop-A-Lula for the album Cliff (1959).

Jerry Lee Lewis performed Be-Bop-A-Lula on Monsters (1971).

Carl Perkins featured his version of Be-Bop-A-Lula on The Man & The Legend (1996).

Be-Bop-A-Lula – The Beatles

John Lennon said that he first played Be-Bop-A-Lula with the Quarrymen on July 6, 1957, when they played at St. Peter’s Church in Liverpool. On the same day he met Paul McCartney.

At the beginning of their career, The Beatles performed the song at most concerts. There is even a recording with Fred Fascher on vocals.

In 1975, John Lennon included Be-Bop-A-Lula on the Rock ‘n’ Roll album.

In 1991, Paul McCartney performed an acoustic version of Be-Bop-A-Lula at the MTV Unplugged concert.

Interesting Facts

  • The original studio version of the track features two whoops from drummer Dicky Harrell. With this, he wanted to prove to his relatives that he participated in the recording of Be-Bop-A-Lula.
  • McCarthy recalled that Be-Bop-A-Lula was the first record he bought on his own.
  • Be-Bop-A-Lula is mentioned in the song Walk of Life by rock band Dire Straits.
  • The song was also featured on the soundtracks of the films Flaming Creatures, The Delinquents, Wild At Heart and Pleasantville.
  • George Harrison played a Stratocaster “Rocky” guitar that had “Bebopalula” written on it.

Be-Bop-A-Lula Lyrics by Gene Vincent

Well, Be bop a Lula she’s my baby,
Be bop a lula, I don’t mean maybe
Well, Be bop a Lula she’s my baby,
Be bop a lula, I don’t mean maybe
Be bop a lula
She’s my baby doll, my baby doll, my baby doll

Well She’s the gal in the red blue jeans,
She’s the queen of all the teens
She’s the woman that I know
She’s a woman that love me so, say,


She’s the woman that’s got that beat
She’s the woman with the flying feet
She’s the one that walks around the store,
She’s the one that gets more more more more


Lyrics of Be-Bop-A-Lula by Gene Vincent Alternate

Be-bop-a-lula, she’s my baby
Be-bop-a-lula, I mean it.
Be-bop-a-lula, she’s my baby
Be-bop-a-lula, I mean it.
She’s my doll, my doll, my doll.

She is a girl in red and blue jeans.
She is the queen of teenagers.
She is the woman I know.
She is the woman who loves me so much.


She is a woman of charm.
She is a woman with a soaring gait.
She is one of those who walks around the store.
She’s the type who wants more and more and more and more…


Song quote

The day I met Paul, I sang this song at my first gig. All the Beatles books have a photo of me in a plaid shirt holding a small acoustic guitar and singing Be-Bop-A-Lula…

John Lennon, Playboy, 1980

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