Saturday, April 4, 2009

"Underground Legends"

Eddie Cochran (October 3, 1938 – April 17, 1960)

Although he only lived to the age of twenty-one and released only one album, Eddie Cochran made plenty of music to make him a RocknRoll and Rockabilly legend. Cochran epitomized the fifties rebel rocker through his flashy clothes, his gritty voice, his high-energy, virtuosic guitar playing and last his teenage angst and desire in his lyrics.

Born Raymond Edward Cochran in Albert Lea, Minnesota, he began with music lessons at a young age and learned to play the drums, guitar and piano. He would play many of the country songs that he heard on the radio and his guitar playing improved after him and his family moved to Bell Garden, California in 1955. Eddie formed a band with two junior high school friends. However, his big break came when he met Hank Cochran (no relation), later a country music singer and songwriter, at the American Legion hall. They decided to form the duo, the Cochran Brothers. At the same time, Eddie worked as a sessions musician and began writing songs, creating his demo with Jerry Capehart, who would later be his manager.

In 1956, Boris Petroff asked Cochran to appear in The Girl Can't Help It in which he sang "Twenty Flight Rock" (written by Ned Fairchild). The following year, he starred in Untamed Youth and had hid first hit with "Sittin' in the Balcony" (written by John D. Loudermilk). After those songs, he released his most famous hit "Summertime Blues" (one of my favorites that was co-written with Jerry Capehart), which influenced music in the late 50s, both lyrically and musically. Cochran's other hits included "C'mon Everybody," "Something Else," "My Way," "Teenage Heaven," "Three Stars" (released posthumously), "Nervous Breakdown," and "Cut Across Shorty."

On April 16, 1960 in the UK, Eddie Cochran, his fiancee Sharon Sheeley and fellow tourmate Gene Vincent were involved in a traffic accident in a taxi. The taxi crahsed into a lamp post on Rowden Hill after the taxi driver was speeding. Eddie was taken to St. Mary's Hospital, but died the next day from severe brain injuries. Even if he lived, he would have been a vegetable because of his brain damage. George Martin, the young taxi driver, was convicted of dangerous driving, fined 50 pounds, sent to prison for six months and prohibited from taxi driving for 15 years.

Since Cochran produced so many records, there have been numerous releases after his death. His album My Way was released along with two singles, "Three Stars" and "Three Steps to Heaven." He was also inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Rockabily Hall of Fame.

Eddie Cochran has had a major influence on many Rock musicians and his songs have ben covered numrous times by a wide variety of artists. His innovative technique of aligning the bass and guitar to the same harmonic frequency, and songwriting and overdubbing skills have had the most impact. He has influenced the careers of Marc Bolan, Dave Dee of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, the Who and many others. Cliff Richard, The Who, The Beach Boys, Blue Cheer, Led Zeppelin, The White Stripes, The Sex Pistols, Rush, Tiger Army, Paul McCartney, and Alan Jackson have covered his songs.


Cochran played an indirect role in the Beatles formation as a group: in June 1957, Paul McCartney taught John Lennon the chords to Cochran’s “Twenty Flight Rock” at a church picnic where Lennon’s Quarrymen were playing.

Following his car crash, David Harman (Dave Dee of the band Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich) was a police cadet at the station and later taught himself to play guitar on Cochran's impounded Gretsch.

Coincidentally, earlier in the Eddie's UK tour, the same guitar had been carried to the car for Cochran by a young fan called Mark Feld, who later became famous as Glam rock artist Marc Bolan.

Summertime Blues

Money Honey

C'mon Everybody

Something Else

Twenty Flight Rock

Teenage Heaven

Sittin' In the Balcony

Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie

Cut Across Shorty

Nervous Breakdown

Three Stars (about Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper, who died in the 1959 plane crash)

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