Eddie Cochran revisited

By Gary:For me, an old Rocker, one of the best, maybe the greatest “Pure” Rockers would have been Eddie Cochran.  An artist that was never truly appreciated by the North American Market, because the Big Companies did not like the “Real Rock and Roll Artists”. 

I have found a documentary which looks at the last period of Eddie’s life and was made in 2001 by British Television, because Sharon Sheeley was still alive. 

I purchased “every” Eddie Cochran Record that I could get my hands on.  This is a short documentary and if you are an Eddie Cochran fan, you will enjoy it, even with the inevitable sad ending / 

An interesting footnote:  Sharon Sheeley wrote “Poor Little Fool” for Rick Nelson.  She also wrote “Somethin’ Else” for Eddie Cochran.  She was unofficially engaged to Eddie and was in the car with Eddie and Gene Vincent on that fateful day.  After that she worked with Jackie DeShannon, wrote “Dum Dum” for Brenda Lee, then in 1961 marred L.A. Disk Jockey Jimmy O’Neill. Together, they helped in creating TV’s “Shindig”. She divorced Jimmy in 1966, left the music business and, sadly, passed away in 2002, but no one knows who she was…

Eddie Cochran and Sharon Sheeley

The Late, the Great…

Edward Ray Cochran
(guitar, vocals; born October 3, 1938; died April 17, 1960)

His weapon of choice


Videos:

February 7, 1959 / Complete Town Hall Video from Compton California /
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1959 / Dick Clark Beechnut Saturday Night Show /
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1959 / Movie Go Johnny Go / Teenage Heaven /
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For the Musician’s and Guitar enthusiasts / Gretsch G6120EC Eddie Cochran Tribute video review demo Guitarist Magazine with Darrel Higham /

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From the 1956 Movie “The Girl Can’t Help It”  Twenty Flight Rock

According to Billboard Eddie only charted 3 songs in the top 40, but Eddie’s influence and music would stay with us forever.

I will include the billboard hits and songs that I think are important, looking back through the eyes of a teenager.

1.   Sittin’ in the Balcony/ Liberty 55056/ 3/30/57/ # 18 Billboard

2.   Jeannie, Jeannie, Jeannie/1958

3.   Summertime Blues/ Liberty 55144/ 8/25/58/ # 8 Billboard

4.   C’mon Everybody/ Liberty 55166/ / 1/5/59/ # 35 Billboard

5.   Somethin’ Else/ 1959/

6.   Twenty Flight Rock/ recorded in 1956 for the Movie “The Girl Can’t Help It”

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Although Eddie Cochran was only 21 when he died, he left a lasting mark as a rock and roll pioneer. Cochran zeroed in on teenage angst and desire with such classics as “C’mon Everybody,” “Something Else,” “Twenty Flight Rock” and “Summertime Blues.” A flashy stage dresser with a tough-sounding voice, Cochran epitomized the sound and the stance of the Fifties rebel rocker.

But he was also a virtuoso guitarist, overdubbing parts like Les Paul 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.

Beneath Cochran’s polite exterior lurked an all-American rebel, and in death he achieved iconic status with several generations of rock and rollers, from the first wave of British Invasion bands to the Sex Pistols (who covered “Something Else”).

He even played an indirect role in the Beatles’ formation. 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. In the late Sixties, Blue Cheer recorded a memorable version of “Summertime Blues,” a timeless anthem of teen disenchantment. The Who recorded and released a cover of “Summertime Blues” in 1970.

Cochran was born in Minnesota, raised in Oklahoma 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, who performed in a country-rockabilly vein.

Cochran’s musical influences ran more toward the extroverted likes of Bill HaleyLittle Richard and Carl Perkins, and that is the direction he pursued as a solo artist in the late Fifties. Cochran found a manager and collaborator in songwriter Jerry Capehart, with whom he worked until his death.

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.

Cochran recorded prolifically for Liberty, with mixed results. The label tried moulding him as a crooner, and his debut album, Singin’ for My Baby, was full of schmaltzy ballads that had been foisted upon him.

Cochran favoured a leaner rock and roll sound, and it is that aspect of his catalog – including not only the hard-rocking hits but also such posthumously popular tracks as “Jeannie Jeannie Jeannie,” “Something Else” and “Nervous Breakdown” – for which he is remembered. 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 during his lifetime, which was abruptly cut short when the taxi in which he was a passenger crashed en route to a London airport at the end of a British tour. Also injured in the accident were rocker Gene Vincent and Cochran’s fiancée, songwriter Shari Sheeley.

The single Cochran released just before his death, eerily enough, was entitled “Three Steps to Heaven.” Ironically, he’d been planning for some time to cut back on touring in order to concentrate on songwriting and studio work.

A Rock and Roll and Rockabilly artist who did get some fame, but not what he should have, was the great Eddie Cochran. Eddie would be 72 had he lived, but he was killed in England in a car crash. 

Also in the car crash were Sharon Sheeley and Gene Vincent.  Eddie went through the windshield and died the next day.  (Read what happened to his great Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins guitar.)

Eddie was the first one to use an unwound third string so as to bend the notes a whole tone.  He also wrote his own songs, did overdubbing and had an innovative technique of aligning the bass and guitar to the same harmonic frequency.

I think that Eddie and Sharon where unofficially engaged at the time (Sharon wrote “Poor Little Fool” for Rick Nelson).

I really loved Eddie Cochran and enjoyed that “Summertime Blues“, a great commercial success although not his best.

I think that when Eddie was killed the hard edge of Rock and Roll was gone; the Fabian’s and Frankie Avalon’s, Bobby Vee and those clean pop music idols where now in the forefront.

The hard edge started, I believe, with the loss of Buddy Holly; Elvis was in the army, Chuck was probably in jail, who knows.

Jerry Lee had screwed up his career big time and that first dangerous invasion of Rock and Roll was gone.  The record companies were successful in sanitizing the entire industry, with a few exceptions.

I never saw Eddie, but have CD’s, LP’s and most of his music.
He was truly a “Hard” Rocker.  There is some live video on You Tube…
-Gary


Here are a couple of Eddie Cochrane specials:

1. Three Star Tribute to Buddy Holly, Richie Valens & Big Bopper

2. Three Steps To Heaven

–o–

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8 responses to “Eddie Cochran revisited

  1. Pingback: Eddie Cochran | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

  2. Eddie Cochran was one of the greatest Rock’n’roller ever. I meet his girlfriend Sharon Sheeley Okt. 3 1998 un Chippenham U.K. and this was
    great for me. I make a C.D. to her : A tribute to Sharon Sheeley and she
    loves this C.D. I’m President for the Eddie Cochran Fan Club of Denmark
    and I have the greatest Collection with Eddie Cochran in this world.
    LOVE Eddie Cochran and Sharon Sheeley

  3. Lordy how i hated the “sanitzed Rock & Roll and the teen idols era. Words like dungeree doll and chain you up with paper clips, all meant for simpering teen age girls with bucks to spend. Music took a turn for the worst in that period.
    Dave D.

  4. Pingback: Sharon Sheeley | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

  5. Pingback: Gene Vincent! | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

  6. Pingback: More Eddie Cochran – Gary | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

  7. Pingback: Town Hall Party! | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

  8. Cathy Meechan

    He was a great singer loved his songs.

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