Hi, it’s Gary and I am back from my month of Golf and Boot Scootin’ in Texas. While I was there and on the way home, I thought about a very unknown and forgotten Songwriter who wrote a couple of my favourite songs and really hung out with the who’s who of early Rock and Roll.
Although she did not think much of Gene Vincent, she dated Elvis and was engaged to Eddie Cochran and was in the car with him when he was killed. She did marry Jimmy O’Neill, of Shindig Fame, but left the business in later life.
At age 18 she was the youngest woman to write a Number 1 Hit.
Sharon Sheeley was born in California. She wrote songs for Glen Campbell, Ricky Nelson, Brenda Lee, and Sheeley’s former fiancé, Eddie Cochran.
Sheeley attended Newport Harbour High School in Newport Beach, California, and briefly worked as a teen model.
She went to Hollywood to meet the stars and, after a brief relationship with Don Everly, wrote her first song, the autobiographical “Poor Little Fool“.
Reportedly, she told Ricky Nelson that her godfather had written the song for Elvis Presley; Ricky Nelson then recorded it, and in 1958 it became his first US Number 1.
At age 18, she was the youngest woman to write an American number-one hit. It was also the first number-one song to appear on the Billboard Hot 100 list. Jerry Capehart, the manager and songwriting partner of Eddie Cochran, then agreed to look after Sheeley’s interests.
Sharon then began a serious relationship with Eddie.
She wrote “Love Again” and “Cherished Memories” for Eddie Cochran, and the 1959 hit “Somethin’ Else” with Eddie’s brother Bob Cochran.
Her other songwriting credits included “Hurry Up“, recorded by Ritchie Valens.
In April 1960, she traveled to England to join Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent, who were touring there. She and Cochran were reported as being “unofficially engaged”.
She also recorded a song, “Homework“, with producer Jack Good.
On the night of April 16, 1960, Sheeley, Vincent and Cochran were traveling in a private hire taxi from a concert in Bristol to London airport when it blew a tire and slammed into a lamp post near Chippenham, Wiltshire. All three were rushed to hospital. Cochran, who had been thrown from the vehicle, suffered fatal brain injuries and died the next day, at the age of 21.
Sheeley suffered a broken pelvis while Vincent had broken ribs and collarbone, and added further damage to his already weak leg.
Following this horrible accident she returned to the United States, where she collaborated with musician / songwriter, Jackie DeShannon on a string of hits, including Brenda Lee’s “Dum Dum” and “Heart In Hand,” and Irma Thomas’s “Breakaway“.
She also co-wrote songs with Chris Curtis of The Searchers, including “Night Time” recorded by Paul and Barry Ryan.
In 1961 she married Los Angeles disc jockey Jimmy O’Neill.
They divorced five years later but remained friends. After her divorce, she moved away from the music scene, except for some public appearances at Cochran conventions in the 1990s.
In August 2000, RPM Records released a collection of her songs that were recorded in the early 1960s by a group of session musicians, that included then unknown Glen Campbell, Delaney Bramlett, Leon Russell, David Gates, Hal Blaine and Herb Alpert.
Five days after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage, she died on May 17, 2002 at Sherman Oaks Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles, at the age of 62.
In 1988, Levi Strauss & Co. promoted their Levis 501 range with the story of how Sheeley attracted Cochran at a party by wearing said product. It was seemingly narrated by Sheeley and the background song, “C’mon Everybody“, was released as a promotional single, followed by a compilation album of Cochran’s hits.
Sharon Sheeley was depicted by Rosanna Locke in the 1987 film, La Bamba.