Gene Krell celebrated in song.

We’ll wrap up our verrry limited coverage of Fashion Week today.

I hung out with our old friend Gene Krell last week. He was in town for fashion week fulfilling his duties as Fashion Director at Vogue Japan. Gene’s boutique Granny Takes A Trip remains relevant. It was the theme of Anna Sui’s Spring/Summer 2015 show, which I enjoyed immensely.

Years ago Gene turned me onto Billy Nicholls who, at age 19 in 1968, wrote and performed an amazing album for Immediate Records called “Would You Believe”. Gene knew him because both worked in the mailroom at Immediate the year before.

The cover of Billy Nicholls rare 1968 LP.   "Hey Gene Krell" is absent from the track list but we have it here!

The cover of Billy Nicholls rare 1968 LP. “Hey Gene Krell” is absent from the track list but we have it here!

The album was chocked full of potential hits. Former Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham ran Immediate. He got the Small Faces to be Billy’s backup band. He added lush orchestration to Nicholls’ wonderful songs. It was great sunshine pop. Oldham considered the album England’s answer to Pet Sounds. One song was called “The Girl From New York”, named after a friend of Gene’s he introduced Billy to. I’m told she was a hot number. Her real name was Shirley!

Billy Nicholls was set for stardom. There was only one problem: the record company went out of business right before the album was set to be released. Only 100 copies were pressed. It went more or less unheard for decades. It was legendary, though, fetching up to $10,000 on the collector’s market. Although Billy went on to a respectable career in music, the stardom he should have received never came.

Some people are just doomed to be cult heroes…

Anyway, Billy Nichols wrote a song about Gene, too. It’s called “Hey Gene Krell” and was never released, but somebody finally posted an acetate of it on YouTube. Here it is:

The album itself is, of course, of higher recording quality than this acetate. I recommend it unreservedly.

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2 Responses

  1. Avisletner says:

    Shirley and her friend Avis spent the summer of 67 in London where Shirley met Billy and they fell in love. In 67 they returned to New York with a burgundy velvet jacket for their friend gene that they bought a granny takes a trip. This was his intro to grannies. It was also Shirley who introduced gene to billy and not the other way around.
    Avis Letner
    PS. Gene was a fantastic dancer.add this to his list of talents.

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