Eddie Cochran, the man behind the immortal hits “Summertime Blues” and “C’mon Everybody,” was killed on April 17th 1960 when the taxi carrying him, his fiance’e Sheron Shelly and fellow rocker Gene Vincent  from a show in Bristol, England. The car crashed while driving to the airport in London to take a plane back to America. A raw and exciting rocker with a cocky rebellious image, Eddie Cochran was far from the polished and packaged idols being heavily marketed to American teenagers in the years between the rise of Elvis Presley and the arrival of the Beatles. And while he may have faded from popular memory in the years since his tragic and early death, his biggest hits have not.
Gene Vincent would break his leg due to the accident and walk with a limp for the rest of his life; the only serious injuries among the passengers were Eddie Cochran’s. Having been thrown from the vehicle when it smashed into a light post while traveling in excess of 60 mph Cochran sustained a serious head injury. He died at a hospital in Bath in the early hours of April 17, 1960. He was seated in the center of the back seat and threw himself over Sheeley to shield her and was thrown out of the car when the door flew open.

Stone in bristol

George Harrison saw Eddie Cochran in Liverpool during his final tour, and both his guitar-playing and his stage persona made a strong impression. “He was standing at the microphone and as he started to talk he put his two hands through his hair, pushing it back Harrison later recalled. “And a girl, one lone voice, screamed out, ‘Oh, Eddie!’ and he coolly murmured into the mike, ‘Hi honey.’ I thought, ‘Yes! That’s it—rock and roll!” He was a rocker that lived way too short and whose career was far from reaching its tempest. He was an accomplished musician and was one of the first rock and roll artists to write his own music and add overdub tracks. Cochran was also credited with being one of the first guitar heroes to “bend” notes up one or two by using an unraveled third string. “Bending” notes became common nomenclature amongst guitar heroes from Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townsend and Eddie Van Halen (every guitarist copped this technique). He was truly influential from his guitar playing to the teenage angst subjects he’d sing about.

Jayne Mansfield's Grave Stone

In 1956 he appeared as himself in the film “The Girl Can’t Help It” which featured sex kitten Jayne Mansfield.

While on tour with Vincent a young punter lad of 12 years old would offer to carry Cochran’s  guitar to and from the car.  His name was Mark Feld, better known as Marc Bolan of T. Rex and would too be killed in an ill fated car crash. Eddie was especially revered in Britain where his influence as a rock and roll icon endures to this day. Paul McCartney had a strong affinity to Cochran and it was said that he taught fellow Beatle John Lennon to play “20 Flight Rock” in a early jam session!

McCartney Performing 20 Flight Rock

Gene Vincent

Lennon.. McCartney..Vincent
He was a rocker that lived way too short and whose career was far from reaching its commercial tempest. He was an accomplished musician and was one of the first rock and roll artists to write his own music and add overdub tracks. Cochran was also credited with being one of the first guitar heroes to “bend” notes up a note or two by using an unraveled third string. “Bending” notes became common nomenclature amongst guitar heroes from Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Duane Allman, Pete Townsend and Eddie Van Halen; every guitarist copped this technique!
In early 1959, two of Cochran’s friends, Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens, along with the Big Bopper, were killed in a plane crash while on tour. Eddie’s friends and family later said that he was badly shaken by their deaths, and he developed a morbid premonition that he would also die young. It was shortly after their deaths that he wrote and recorded a tribute to them called “Three Stars”. He was anxious to give up life on the road and spend his time in the studio making music, thereby reducing the chance of suffering a similar fatal accident while touring. Because of financial responsibilities he continued to perform live and that led to his acceptance of an offer for an extended tour of the United Kingdom in 1960.

Cochran was born on Oct. 3rd 1938  in Albert Lea, Minnesota, as Edward Raymond Cochran. Later on  his family would move to a modest track house development in Bell Gardens which is just South of Los Angeles to grasp the California dream.

In spare time he would play with his gun collection and recite lines from the Amos and Andy radio show. He had an affinity for music and taught himself how to play the guitar while listening to country music along with his parents.

   While in the studio he would experiment with overdubbing and editing far before anyone else.live at keeds
“Summertime Blues” released as a single in 1958  was all about teen angst.  The frustration of the inability of teenagers not being heard by their parents,  boss and the government made the perfect storm for futility. In 1970 The Who included their version on their Live at Leeds  album and was a mainstay for their live performances. Live at Leeds by many music critics considered the greatest live recording in music history.

Probably the most interesting version was done by the San Francisco trio Blue Cheer in 1968. Managed by a hard boiled chap named  “Rut”,  a member of the Bay area motorcycle gang The Hells Angels, who was quoted to have said that Blue Cheer played so loud they turned air into cottage cheese! No doubt that Metallica used Blue Cheer as a musical influence.Early blue cheermetallica
Blue Cheer and Metallica…
Blue Cheer’s Summertime Blues

They named themselves after a street brand of LSD that was promoted by renowned LSD chemist and former Grateful Dead prankster,{{{{ Owsley Stanley}}}}. Jim Morrison claimed,  “They were the most powerful band I’ve ever seen!”

Cochran had so much charisma that advertisers were trying to duplicate his austere persona by devising interesting commercial.  “How Sharon Sheeley met Eddie” formed the basis of one of a series of wildly successful television advertisements for Levi’s 501 jeans in the mid-1980s. As was to happen with the other adverts’ soundtracks, to coincide with this advertisement, Eddie’s single, “C’mon Everybody” was re-released and enjoyed frenzy like radio play in Britain. Eddie was now the perfect fashion icon! Yes it twas’ he wearing those 501 Jeans.
How Cool to Meet Eddie
Again, Cochran’s music had influenced rockers that followed. British workin’ band Humble Pie featuring the guitar slinger.. Steve Marriott recorded a version of C’mon Everybody that was fueled with nicotine, swagger and swing.

humble pie at the whiskysteve marriott

Humble Pie Live in London
In spite of his global influence he had lived to record only one album..”Singin’ To My Baby” which after his death was constantly being repackaged by his record company.

Eddie Cochran’s guitar is now on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio where he was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of fame in 1987 by Lou Gramm of Foreigner and  behind glass are all the items in their collection of Cochran’s memorabilia, and this is probably for the best. Although the story of Cochran’s guitar is not especially well-known, there is still a risk that legions of young rock and roll players showing up to fondle the thing in the hopes that it will kick start their career let alone their souls.rock star dies Heck, if I ever get out to Ohio, I’m going to try to get my hands on it, if only for a few moments, if only to strum the iconic opening chords to “Summertime Blues.                                                                                                                                                         There are some risks of course but that’s how these thing work, isn’t it?cochran death stone

Magical objects always come with  the risks of a curse,  don’t they?

Cochran was buried at Forest Hills Mortuary in Cypress Calif. I Felt that there were a few lines that were important to print:
“Heavenly music filled the air
That very tragic day
Something seemed to be missing tho
So I heard the creator say:
We need a master guitarist and singer.
I know of but one alone Eddied Cochran”.

 A special thanks to Mr. John Rook For his insights and a perfect depiction of Eddie Cochran’s life… it was great..

7 Horses 2the who hendrix