These 80s French Rockabillies Loved America More Than You Do

In 1982, photographer Gil Rigoulet followed some rockabilly friends to their homes and hairdresser appointments.

by Gil Rigoulet
Sep 6 2016, 3:30pm

This article originally appeared on VICE France.

In the early 1980s, I was working as a photographer and living in Evreux, a commune in northwest France. I had been working steadily for a weekly since 1975 and was just starting to sell my photos to newspapers and Parisian magazines. One day in the winter of 1982 I met a group of rockabilly friends from Evreux while they were hanging out near the city's cathedral. Their look fascinated me, so I approached them and asked if I could document their daily life. They agreed.

For four months, I followed Marco, Raynald, Michel, Éric, Boumé, Lionel, Titi, Denis, Alan, Jimmy, Laurent, Bouboule, and others, at home in their bedrooms, at work, in the King Bee record shop, at the market where they'd buy their outfits, and on their nights out. The boys all dreamed of moving to the United States and listening to Gene Vincent, Elvis Presley, and Crazy Cavan and the Rhythm Rockers. They usually met up at the Liberty Bar, which dated back to the time when American air forces were based at Evreux in the early years of the Cold War. They hung out in parking lots where they repaired their classic cars—French Simcas, not Chevys.

Over the course of a few months, I went from being a photojournalist interested in them as subjects to someone they knew well; they invited me over to their houses, and I'd have lunch with their parents. After a while, they even invited me to come along to their hair appointments. Their salon was owned by Mr. Tuffier—a man who always wore glasses, a goatee, and a wide tie with a floral print. That was an honor: Mr. Tuffier was the quiffmaster of Evreux, so a visit to him was the most sacred of their activities.

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