As a teenager in 1956, just months after Gene Vincent and the Bluecaps recorded their classic "Be Bop-A-Lula," Peek auditioned for Gene Vincent's band. Within weeks, Peek found himself in Hollywood, performing the song in the movie The Girl Can't Help It. Grinning ear to ear, with his curly red hair flailing so wildly his blue cap flew off, Peek stole the first close-up from Vincent -- a stunt he later admitted "almost got me fired."
But when Vincent realized he'd always be upstaged by this handsome kid, he wisely turned Peek's charisma to the band's advantage by standing Peek next to him as a sort of co-vocalist, performing choreographed dance moves of which the pompadoured frontman (who suffered lingering effects from a motorcycle accident) was physically incapable.
Peek's vocal prowess is clearly audible on tunes such as "Lotta Lovin'" from the 1957 album Gene Vincent and His Bluecaps. When that song hit No. 14, the band hit the road on an international package tour, which later gave Peek the unusual distinction of having flown in a plane with Buddy Holly and survived.
As a solo artist, Peek cut "The Rock-A-Round," the debut single from Bill Lowery's Atlanta-based NRC label. Still one of the most berserk platters ever released, it featured Jerry Reed on guitar and legendary madman Esquerita hammering the piano. Peek continued performing and, despite declining health, attended recent Atlanta concerts by fellow legends Link Wray and Jeff Beck, before succumbing to cirrhosis of the liver. He leaves behind a wife, a son and a treasury of immortal recordings and performances. Donations toward Paul Peek's medical and funeral bills may be sent to Barbara Peek, 6276 Cathedral Lane, Lithonia, GA 30058.