Gene Vincent Craddock was a great rockabilly artist who, with his excellent backup group "The Blue Caps," had a number of hits. The most famous was 1956's "Bee-Bop-A-Lula." He was dropped from his label by 1966, however, and was signed to Challenge Records in Hollywood. Seals and Crofts were seasoned session musicians by then, and so it was no surprise that they would be included as backup musicians for the attempt to revive Gene's fortunes on the charts.
The most successful recording was the hit, "Bird Doggin". It is rumored that Jimmy Seals played the wailing harmonicatrack. The song was recorded at Sunset Sound in Hollywood on July 1, 1966, during the same session that Gene recorded Jimmy's song, "Love Is a Bird." Jimmy was generally relegated to tenor sax and an occasional backing vocal for the Challenge sessions, while Dash's place was behind his drum set. But it would not be surprising to learn that they occasionally played other instruments as the need arose. It is not clear if Seals and Crofts contributed to the July 1, 1966 session. They were, however, definately credited for playing at Western Recorders, Hollywood, for Gene's last session with Challenge. Seals and Crofts played backed up on all five songs on March 7, 1967:
Hurtin' For You Baby (59365)
Poor Man's Prison
Born To Be a Rolling Stone (59365)
I'm a Lonesome Fugitive
Most of the recordings were released on various lp's in Europe, not in the U.S. Thus, Gene's output remained mostly unknown to his American fans during those years. In 1994, Sundazed Records released the entire Challenge Sessions on "Ain't That Too Much -- The Complete Challenge Sessions." It has alternate versions of Jimmy's "Love Is a Bird."
Gene continued recording for several years after the Challenge sessions. He was no stranger to hard living, and he died at the age of 36 from a ruptured stomach ulcer, in 1971. He was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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