Friday 30 September 2022

My Baby Drove Off In A Brand New Cadillac

Madness once said: "Think of seven letters, begin and end in C, like a big American car, but it's spelt with a D".
They were trying to invoke a thought of "Cardiac" which admittedly has 7 letters, and begins and ends in C.  But spelt with a D?  But Cadillac has 8 letters ...
(I'll stop now because I'm over-thinking it again)

Cadillac the company came to life in 1902 (making it the ninth oldest in the world and fourth oldest in the US).  By 1909 it was acquired by General Motors - which already owned 2 the other 3 (Buick and Oldsmobile).
And when they did get under GM's wing, they taught the Industry about inter-changeable parts and mass production techniques - first done by Henry Ford with the Model T, but Cadillac were doing across their entire vehicle range.
Luxury Cars was their stock trade - for "Luxury" read "Massive Boats", and the development of their V8 engine ensured that the cars got bigger and bigger.  And they stayed that way.
In an old Top Trumps pack, the 1974 Cadillac Elderado Fleetwood was a key card - it had the biggest engine (8.2 litres) and the largest dimensions.  Granted it could still be trounced on top speed or number of cylinders, but if played properly it was a general winner.

The Cadillac is mentioned in numerous songs

  • Bruce Springsteen (and later Natalie Cole) has a 'Pink Cadillac'
  • Hot Chocolate found Heaven on the Back Seat of a Cadillac
  • Johnny Cash built one One Piece At A Time
  • Marc Bolan promised to buy his latest beau one
  • The Stray Cats told us all to look at one
  • Arianne Grande (singer or font?) sung about riding round in one remembering when her and a special friend first met
  • Jimmy Liggins (as far back as 1948) Boogie Woogied with one and kept rolling along
  • Camper Van Beethoven found Joe Stalin's Cadillac.  And ones also owned by Lyndon B Johnson, General Pinochet, and Samoza
  • Imelda May just wanted hers back - her boyfriend left but all she wanted was the car back
  • Lightnin Hopkins had the big black Cadillac Blues
  • Dwight Yoakam has a Long White one

But there is one song that was once called a "key part of the development of British Rock n Roll", and then largely forgotten about until The Clash covered it on 'London Calling' 

Vince Taylor started out hanging around the 2i's Coffee Bar.  There he met Tony Meehan and formed a band called The Playboys to back the newly monikered singer - he chose the name Vince from some Latin written on a Pall Mall cigarette packet.  Taylor?  Maybe he just liked the sound of it (I can find no evidence as to why it was chosen).
Still - bearing in mind that Larry Parnes was recruiting in the 2i's he could've ended up being called Brian Angry or something.

With his re-configured Playboys (without Tony Meehan, who'd joined The Shadows instead) he signed to Parlephone and released two singles - "I Like Love" and "Right Behind You Baby".  Although not successful, Parlephone persevered and released "Pledgin' My Love" with "Brand New Cadillac" on the B Side.  But still success eluded him, and Parlephone ended the contract.
Undetterred, he signed with a minor label and released another single.  And you've guessed it - nothing doing.
Even appearing on Oh Boy alongside Cliff Richard, or a new ABC Television show with Dickie Pride, Billy Fury, Joe Brown, Jess Conrad, Little Tony, and Johnny Kidd & The Pirates did nothing for his profile or sales.

'Brand New Cadillac' though had found favour on the continent, and specifically in Scandinavia where it was given the cover version treatment to some notable success.

At odds with his charismatic stage persona, off-stage he was sullen and suffered erratic mood swings, and drinking and drugging didn't help matters.
The Playboys went through various line-up changes, and due to continental success re-located to France where Vince Taylor was rewarded with a 6 year contract with the Barclay label.

Success (albeit not in his homeland) though did nothing to alter his mood, and The Playboys were disbanded and re-formed a couple more times before the drink and drugs took hold.  Eddie Barclay though never truly lost faith and offered Vince Taylor the chance to continue recording and performing in the 70s and early 80s.  Over time though, performances became more and more sporadic  It's not that he stopped performing, more that he just didn't bother anymore (or not enough to keep him in the public eye).

Vince Taylor's rise has often been cited (not least by the author himself) as the inspiration (or one of them anyway) for Ziggy Stardust.
David Bowie had met Vince Taylor after one of his breakdowns at a time when he believed himself to be the new messiah and/or some form of alien.
(Gene Vincent, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed are also cited - for a relative unknown rocker, that's quite some company)


  1. Another excellent post, and the Vince Taylor song was much appreciated.

    I feel it's my duty, however, to point out a glaring omission on the Springsteen front. Pink Cadillac is a fine tune... but it's no Cadillac Ranch.

    Cadillac, Cadillac, long and dark, shiny and black...
    Pulled up to my house today
    Came and took my little girl away

    1. Yup, Cadillac Ranch definitely deserves a mention
      (and it's my failing that I forgot about it)

  2. Can I offer up
    Black Cadillac - Rosanne Cash
    Cadillac Elvis - Sid Griffin
    Carl Perkins' Cadillac - Drive-By Truckers

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. And more for the playlist - that I would be making if I was a Spotify User.
      Just adds weight to the theory that the Cadillac is the second-most mentioned American Car in popular song