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Eddie Cochran – Fifty years on

Written by admin on April 17, 2010 – 7:01 am -

Fifty years ago today, the world of rock ‘n’ roll lost one of its most talented stars when Eddie Cochran was killed in a road accident in England. Songwriter Sharon Sheeley and singer Gene Vincent survived the crash.

Eddie Cochran death Eddie Cochran had just headlined the successful 12-week “Fast Moving Anglo-American Beat Show” UK tour with Gene Vincent, which had concluded with a show at the Bristol Hippodrome. The accident happened in Chippenham, Wiltshire, on the way to the airport to return to the US. Eddie was taken to St Martin’s Hospital, Bath, where he died 16 hours later.

In attendance at the scene was 18-year-old police cadet David Harman, who would later change his name to Dave Dee and lead the band Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich.

Eddie Cochran was born in Albert Lea, Minnesota on October 3, 1938. He got his start in music at just 16 when he left school to work with club singer Hank Cochran. The two toured as the Cochran Brothers, but were not related.

It was in 1956 that Eddie’s solo career began to take off, with a nervous looking appearance singing “Twenty Flight Rock” in the movie “The Girl Can’t Help It.” The story goes that Paul McCartney was invited to join John Lennon’s band in 1957 because he had known all the chords and words to “Twenty Flight Rock.”

Eddie Cochran – “Twenty Flight Rock”

During 1957, Cochran appeared in the movie “Untamed Youth,” had his first hit (“Sittin’ in the Balcony”) and released his first album (“Singin’ to My Baby”).

Things were going ok for Eddie, but it was what came next that secured his place in rock ‘n’ roll history. In 1958 he released two songs that would become classics – “Summertime Blues” and “C’mon Everybody.” Given their enduring popularity, it’s surprising that these songs only made number eight and number 35, respectively, on the Billboard pop charts at the time.

The equally superb and brilliantly sung “Somethin’ Else” from the following year only made number 58.

Eddie Cochran

Eddie Cochran – “Summertime Blues” (Live on Town Hall Party, 1959)

Eddie Cochran – “C’mon Everybody”

Eddie Cochran – “Somethin’ Else”

Eddie Cochran first set foot in England three months before his death on January 10, 1960. A busy time followed, with a 12-week tour and appearances on the television show “Boy Meets Girl” on January 16 and 23, and February 20 and 27. Cochran also found time to appear at the NME Poll Winners concert at the Empire Pool Wembley on February 20, and BBC Radio’s Saturday Club on February 16 and 23.

Here’s Eddie Cochran performing a great R&B version of “Milk Cow Blues” on the “Boy Meets Girl” show, complete with a superb guitar break that sounds ahead of its time:

Eddie Cochran – “Milk Cow Blues”

Eddie Cochran’s biggest chart success came in the UK with the posthumous number one hit “Three Steps to Heaven.”

Eddie Cochran – “Three Steps to Heaven”

Eddie Cochran’s relatively modest chart performance while he was alive doesn’t tell the full story about his impact on rock ‘n’ roll music. His best work influenced a diverse range of important artists, including The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Van Halen and Tom Petty.

Eddie Cochran with guitar It’s tragic that Eddie Cochran’s life was cut short at just 21-years-old, but he left behind some of the finest and most influential songs of the rock ‘n’ roll era. We can be thankful for that.

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