Thursday, 3 October 2013
Eddie Cochran born 3 October 1938
Ray Edward 'Eddie' Cochran (October 3, 1938 – April 17, 1960) was an early American rockabilly musician and an important influence on popular music during the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Cochran was born in Albert Lea, Minnesota as Ray Edward Cochran. He took music lessons in school, but quit the band to play drums, he would have been required to take piano lessons also. Instead, he began playing his family's guitar and playing the country music he heard on the radio. In 1955, Eddie's family moved to Bell Gardens, California. Eddie's guitar playing kept improving and he formed a band with two friends from his Jr. High School. During a show featuring many performers at an American Legion hall, he met Hank Cochran (later a country music songwriter). Although they were not related, family acts were popular at the time and they began performing together. The duo recorded as The Cochran Brothers. Eddie Cochran also worked as a session musician, and began writing songs, making a "demo" with Jerry Capehart, his future manager.
When playing with Hank Cochran, Eddie Cochran played a Gibson lectric acoustic guitar with a single florentine cutaway. This guitar featured a pair of Gibson P90 pickups sometimes called 'Dog Ear' pickups due to their shape. Later, Cochran moved to a 1956 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins Western model, which Eddie had modified. He replaced the neck position De Armond Dynasonic pickup with a black covered Gibson P-90 pickup. He also used acoustic guitars.
In 1956, Boris Petroff asked Cochran if he would appear in the musical comedy film The Girl Can't Help It. He agreed and sang a song called "Twenty Flight Rock" in the movie. In 1957 Cochran starred in his second film, Untamed Youth, and also had his first hit, "Sittin' in the Balcony", one of the few songs he recorded that were written by other songwriters (in this case John D. Loudermilk). "Twenty Flight Rock" was written by AMI staff writer Ned Fairchild (a pen name, her real name is Nelda Fairchild). AMI granted Cochran a co-writer credit but no royalties, a common arrangement by which publishers move songs from demos to commercial recordings. This allowed Cochran to rewrite or add to the song to turn it into a rock and roll song. Fairchild, who was not a rock and roll performer, merely provided the initial form of the song, and the co-writing credit reflects Cochran's changes and contributions to the final product.
In November 1957 Liberty Records released Cochran's only album released during his lifetime, Singin' to My Baby. The album included Eddie's first hit "Sittin' in the Balcony". There were only a few rockers on this album and Liberty seemed to want to move Cochran more into the pop music direction. In 1958, however, Cochran seemed to find his stride in the famous teenage anthem "Summertime Blues" (co-written with Jerry Capehart). With this song Cochran was established as an important influence on music in the late 1950s, both lyrically and musically. The song, released on Liberty recording No. 55144, charted at No. 8 on August 25, 1958. Cochran's brief career included only a few more hits, such as "C'mon, Everybody", "Somethin' Else", "Teenage Heaven", and his posthumous UK number one hit "Three Steps to Heaven." Eddie Cochran remained popular in the UK throughout the 1960s and scored more posthumous hits such as "My Way", "Weekend" and "Nervous Breakdown".
The other fascinating aspect of Eddie's short but brilliant career is his work as backup musician and producer. He played guitar on tracks by Ray Stanley, Lee Denson, Baker Knight, Bob Denton, Galen Denny, Don Deal, Troyce Key, Mike Clifford, Paula Morgan, Jody Reynolds, Johnny Burnette, Wynn Stewart, Ernie Freeman, Elroy Peace, Derry Weaver, Eddie Daniels, Jewel Akens, John Ashley, Jack Lewis, Lynn Marshall, Jess Willard, The Holly Twins, Barry Martin and Al Casey. In 1959 he played lead for Skeets McDonald at Columbia's studios for "You Oughta See Grandma Rock" and "Heart Breaking Mama". In a session for Gene Vincent in March 1958 he contributed his trademark low bass voice as heard on Summertime Blues. The recordings were issued on the album A Gene Vincent Record Date.
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. However, financial responsibilities required that he continue to perform live, and that led to his acceptance of an offer to tour the United Kingdom in 1960.
On the night of Saturday April 16, 1960, at about 11:50 p.m. while on tour in the United Kingdom, Cochran died in a traffic accident in a taxi (a Ford Consul, [reg. no. RBO 869], not, as widely quoted a London Hackney carriage) travelling through Chippenham, Wiltshire, England on the A4. He was 21. The taxi crashed into a lamp post on Rowden Hill. There was no other car involved. A plaque erected there shows the actual spot. He was taken to St. Martin's Hospital, Bath, but died at 4:10 p.m. the following day. Songwriter Sharon Sheeley (Cochran's fiancée) and singer Gene Vincent survived the crash.
The taxi driver, George Martin, was convicted of dangerous driving, fined £50, disqualified from driving for fifteen years and sent to prison for six months.
The car and other items from the crash were impounded at the local police station until a coroners' inquest could be held. At that time, David Harman, later known as Dave Dee of the band Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, was a police cadet at the station, and taught himself to play guitar on Eddie's impounded Gretsch.
Eddie Cochran is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Cypress, California. A posthumous album, My Way, was released in 1964. (info Wikipedia)