Quiffs, Cars and Kicks: Small Town French Rockabilly Boys Dreaming of America

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

av Gil Rigoulet
2016 09 06, 8:50am

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 or on their nights out. The boys all dreamt of moving to the United States and listened 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 American airforces were based at Evreux in the earlier years of the Cold War. They hung out in car parks 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 wide tie with a floral print. That was an honour: Mr Tuffier was the quiffmaster of Evreux, so a visit to him was the most sacred of their activities.