Eddie Cochran

Bell Gardens, California, US
Artist / Band / Musician
Rockabilly / Rock / Country
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Though he died young at twenty-one, Eddie Cochran left a lasting mark on Rock and Roll as pioneer who helped map out the territory with such definitive songs as "C'mon Everybody," "Something Else," "Twenty Flight Rock" and "Summertime Blues." Beneath Eddie’s polite exterior lurked an all-American Rebel.

Cochran epitomized the sound and the stance of the Fifties-bred Rebel Rocker. His twangy guitar riffs and the defiant attitude of his songs made him an Icon for several generations of Rock and Rollers, from the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Who to punk-rockers like the Sex Pistols. It was a song of Cochran's that initially brought John Lennon and Paul McCartney together in June 1957, when the latter taught the former the chords to "Twenty Flight Rock" at a church picnic where Lennon's Quarrymen were playing.

Eddie was also a virtuoso guitarist, overdubbing parts even on his earliest singles and playing with an authority that led music journalist Bruce Eder to pronounce him “Rock’s first high-energy Guitar Hero, the forerunner to Pete Townshend, Jimmy Page, Duane Allman and, at least in terms of dexterity, Jimi Hendrix.” Cochran was also proficient on piano, bass and drums.

In the late Sixties, both the Who and Blue Cheer recorded memorable versions of “Summertime Blues,” a timeless anthem of teen disenchantment.

Eddie was born in Albert Lea, Minnesota and moved to California with his family, where he began his musical career in 1954. Initially, he teamed up with singer-guitarist Hank Cochran (no relation), touring and recording as the Cochran Brothers. He then found a manager and collaborator in songwriter Jerry Capehart, who worked with Cochran for the remainder of his career.

Cochran cut his first rock record, “Skinny Jim,” for the Crest label in 1956. His big break came when a movie producer approached him to appear in the film The Girl Can’t Help It, which featured his frenetic version of “Twenty Flight Rock.” That same year Cochran signed with Liberty Records, where he perfected a sound on “Summertime Blues” and “C’mon Everybody” that featured driving acoustic and electric guitars, handclaps and tambourines, and lyrics that unerringly expressed the alienated teen mindset.

On the movie front, Eddie made another splash in Go Johnny Go!, in which he performed "Teenage Heaven".

He was especially revered in Britain, where his influence as a Rock and Roll original endures to this day.

Eddie Cochran released only one album, Singin' to My Baby, during his lifetime, which was abruptly cut short when the taxi in which he was a passenger crashed in route to a London airport at the end of a British tour, on 16th April 1960. The next day, only hours after the accident Eddie died from his injuries. Also hurt in the crash were rocker Gene Vincent and Cochran's fiancee, songwriter Sharon Sheeley. Ironically, Eddie’d been planning for some time to cut back on touring in order to concentrate on songwriting and studio work.The single he'd released at the time of his death, eerily enough, was entitled "Three Steps to Heaven."

Inductee Timeline

October 3, 1938: Eddie Cochran is born in Albert Lea, Minnesota.

March 23, 1957: Eddie Cochran’s first single, “Sittin’ in the Balcony,” enters the charts, where it will peak at 18.

November 1957: Singin’ to My Baby, the only album released during Eddie Cochran’s lifetime, appears on Liberty Records.

August 25, 1958: Eddie Cochran’s biggest hit, “Summertime Blues,” enters Billboard’s Top 100, where it will peak at 18 and sell over a million copies.

January 5, 1959: “C’mon Everybody,” by Eddie Cochran, enters the singles chart at 35. It becomes a bigger hit in Britain, where it reaches 6.

February 1959: Eddie Cochran cuts “Three Stars,” a tribute to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, who were killed in a plane crash while on tour. Cochran himself had been booked on that tour, but a film commitment (Go, Johnny, Go!) forced him to pull out.

January 8, 1960: Eddie Cochran enters Gold Star studios in Los Angeles for what will turn out to be his last recording session. He leaves for a tour of Britain the next day.

April 16, 1960: The airport-bound taxi in which Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and Sharon Sheeley (Cochran’s fiancée) are passengers crashes on a British highway.

April 17, 1960: Eddie Cochran dies at a hospital in Bath, England, from head injuries suffered in a car wreck a day earlier.

May 1960: The Eddie Cochran Memorial Album is released shortly after his death.

January 5, 1962: Another posthumous Eddie Cochran compilation, Never to Be Forgotten, is released.

May 1968: A Fifties revival sends Eddie Cochran’s reissued “Summertime Blues” to 34 in the U.K. This comes close on the heels of Blue Cheer’s acid-rock cover version, which reached 14 in the U.S.

March 1980: Eddie Cochran’s death 20 years earlier is marked by the U.K. release of a box set, 20th Anniversary Album.

January 21, 1987: Eddie Cochran is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the second annual induction dinner. Mick Jones of Foreigner is his presenter.

November 1988: The six-disc Eddie Cochran Box Set is released on Liberty Records.

Interview 1957 - Denver, Colorado

The Eddie Cochran Story

Rock 'n' Roll Memories: Jerry Capehart - Eddie Cochran

Interview, England 1960
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