Eddie Cochran

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Eddie Cochran
Eddie Cochran.jpg
Cochran in 1957
Background information
Birth nameRay Edward Cochran
Born(1938-10-03)October 3, 1938
Albert Lea, Minnesota, U.S.
DiedApril 17, 1960(1960-04-17) (aged 21)
Bath, Somerset, England, UK
Genres
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, musician
Instruments
  • Guitar
  • vocals
Years active1952–1960
Labels
Associated acts

Ray Edward Cochran ( /ˈkɒkrən/ ; October 3, 1938 – April 17, 1960) was an American musician. Cochran's rockabilly songs, such as "Twenty Flight Rock", "Summertime Blues", "C'mon Everybody" and "Somethin' Else", captured teenage frustration and desire in the mid-1950s and early 1960s. [1] He experimented with multitrack recording, distortion techniques, and overdubbing even on his earliest singles. [2] He played the guitar, piano, bass, and drums. [1] His image as a sharply dressed and good-looking young man with a rebellious attitude epitomized the stance of the 1950s rocker, and in death he achieved an iconic status. [3]

Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll music, dating back to the early 1950s in the United States, especially the South. As a genre it blends the sound of Western musical styles such as country with that of rhythm and blues, leading to what is considered "classic" rock and roll. Some have also described it as a blend of bluegrass with rock and roll. The term "rockabilly" itself is a portmanteau of "rock" and "hillbilly", the latter a reference to the country music that contributed strongly to the style. Other important influences on rockabilly include western swing, boogie-woogie, jump blues, and electric blues.

Twenty Flight Rock 1957 single by Eddie Cochran

"Twenty Flight Rock" is a song originally performed by Eddie Cochran in the 1956 film comedy The Girl Can't Help It, and released as a single the following year. The song was published in 1957 as written by Ned Fairchild and Eddie Cochran, by American Music Incorporated and Campbell, Connelly and Company. Cochran's contribution was primarily on the music. His version is rockabilly-flavored, but artists of many genres have covered the song.

Summertime Blues single by Eddie Cochran, covered by The Who

"Summertime Blues" is a song co-written and recorded by American rockabilly artist Eddie Cochran. It was written by Cochran and his manager Jerry Capehart. Originally a single B-side, it was released in August 1958 and peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 29, 1958 and number 18 on the UK Singles Chart. It has been covered by many artists, including being a number-one hit for country music artist Alan Jackson, and scoring notable hits in versions by The Who, Blue Cheer and Brian Setzer, the last of whom recorded his version for the 1987 film La Bamba, where he portrayed Cochran. Jimi Hendrix performed it in concert.

Contents

Cochran was involved with music from an early age, playing in the school band and teaching himself to play blues guitar. [4] In 1954, he formed a duet with the guitarist Hank Cochran (no relation), and when they split the following year, Eddie began a songwriting career with Jerry Capehart. His first success came when he performed the song "Twenty Flight Rock" in the film The Girl Can't Help It , starring Jayne Mansfield. Soon afterwards, he signed a recording contract with Liberty Records.

Hank Cochran American country musician

Garland Perry "Hank" Cochran was an American country music singer and songwriter. Starting during the 1960s, Cochran was a prolific songwriter in the genre, including major hits by Patsy Cline, Ray Price, Eddy Arnold and others. Cochran was also a recording artist between 1962 and 1980, scoring seven times on the Billboard country music charts, with his greatest solo success being the No. 20 "Sally Was a Good Old Girl." In 2014, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Jerry Neil Capehart was a songwriter and music manager. Capehart co-wrote the famous rock 'n' roll songs "Summertime Blues" and "C'mon Everybody" with Eddie Cochran, whom he also managed. One of his most-recorded songs, "Turn Around, Look at Me," was a chart hit for Glen Campbell, the Lettermen, and the Vogues. He died in Nashville, Tennessee.

<i>The Girl Cant Help It</i> 1956 film by Frank Tashlin

The Girl Can't Help It is a 1956 musical comedy starring Jayne Mansfield in the titular role, Tom Ewell, Edmond O'Brien, Henry Jones, and Julie London. The picture was produced and directed by Frank Tashlin, with a screenplay adapted by Tashlin and Herbert Baker from an uncredited 1955 novel, Do Re Mi by Garson Kanin. The movie was originally intended as a vehicle for the American sex symbol Jayne Mansfield, with a satirical subplot involving teenagers and rock 'n' roll music. The unintended result has been called the "most potent" celebration of rock music ever captured on film.

Cochran died at age 21 after a road accident, while travelling in a taxi in Chippenham, Wiltshire, during his British tour in April 1960, having just performed at Bristol's Hippodrome theatre. Though his best-known songs were released during his lifetime, more of his songs were released posthumously. In 1987, Cochran was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His songs have been recorded by a wide variety of recording artists.

Chippenham town in Wiltshire, England

Chippenham is a large historic market town in northwest Wiltshire, England. It lies 20 miles (32 km) east of Bristol, 86 miles (138 km) west of London and 4 miles (6 km) west of The Cotswolds AONB. The town was established on a crossing of the River Avon and some form of settlement is believed to have existed there since before Roman times. It was a royal vill, and probably a royal hunting lodge, under Alfred the Great. The town continued to grow when the Great Western Railway arrived in 1841; it is now a major commuter town.

Wiltshire County of England

Wiltshire is a county in South West England with an area of 3,485 km2. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. The county town was originally Wilton, after which the county is named, but Wiltshire Council is now based in the county town of Trowbridge.

Bristol Hippodrome theatre in Bristol, England

The Bristol Hippodrome is a theatre located in The Centre, Bristol, England, United Kingdom with seating on three levels giving a capacity of 1,951. It frequently features shows from London's West End when they tour the UK, as well as regular visits by Welsh National Opera and an annual pantomime.

Early life

Cochran was born October 3, 1938, in Albert Lea, Minnesota, to Alice and Frank R. Cochran. [2] His parents were from Oklahoma, and he always said in interviews that his parents had some roots in Oklahoma. He took music lessons in school but quit the band to play drums. Also, rather than taking piano lessons, he began learning guitar, playing country and other music he heard on the radio.

Albert Lea, Minnesota City in Minnesota, United States

Albert Lea is a city in Freeborn County, in the southern part of the State of Minnesota. It is also the county seat. Its population was 18,016 at the 2010 census.

Music career

Early career and Cochran Brothers (1952–1955)

Cochran's family moved to Bell Gardens, California, in 1952. As his guitar playing improved, he formed a band with two friends from his junior high school. He dropped out of Bell Gardens High School in his first year to become a professional musician. [5] During a show featuring many performers at an American Legion hall, he met Hank Cochran, a songwriter. Although they were not related, they recorded as the Cochran Brothers and began performing together. [6] They recorded a few singles for Ekko Records that were fairly successful and helped to establish them as a performing act. Eddie Cochran also worked as a session musician and began writing songs, making a demo with Jerry Capehart, his future manager.

Bell Gardens, California City in California

Bell Gardens is a city in Los Angeles County, California. The population was 42,072 at the 2010 census, down from 44,054 at the 2000 census. Bell Gardens is part of the Gateway Cities Region, or Southeast Los Angeles County, a largely urbanized region located in southeastern Los Angeles County between the city of Los Angeles, Orange County, and the Pacific Ocean.

Bell Gardens High School is a public high school in Bell Gardens, California, part of the Montebello Unified School District.

American Legion veterans’ organization

The American Legion is a U.S. war veterans' organization headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. It is made up of state, U.S. territory, and overseas departments, and these are in turn made up of local posts. The legislative body of The American Legion is a national convention, held annually. The organization was founded on March 15, 1919, at the American Club near Place de la Concorde in Paris, France, by members of the American Expeditionary Forces, and it was chartered on September 16, 1919, by the U.S. Congress.

First success as solo artist (1956–1957)

In July 1956, Eddie Cochran's first "solo artist" single was released by Crest Records. [7] It featured "Skinny Jim", now regarded as a rock-and-roll and rockabilly classic. In the spring of 1956, Boris Petroff asked Cochran if he would appear in the musical comedy film The Girl Can't Help It . Cochran agreed and performed the song "Twenty Flight Rock" in the movie. In 1957 Cochran starred in his second film, Untamed Youth , and he had yet another hit, "Sittin' in the Balcony", one of the few songs he recorded that was 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). Fairchild, who was not a rock and roll performer, merely provided the initial form of the song; the co-writing credit reflects Cochran's major changes and contributions to the final product.

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<i>Untamed Youth</i> 1957 film by Howard W. Koch

Untamed Youth is a 1957 American drama film directed by Howard W. Koch, written by John C. Higgins and Stephen Longstreet, and starring Mamie Van Doren and Lori Nelson as two starstruck sisters who are sentenced to farm labor.

"Sittin' in the Balcony" is a song written and performed by John D. Loudermilk under his artist name Johnny Dee. It was released in January 1957 on the Colonial Records label. Eddie Cochran had a Top 40 hit in the U.S. with his recording on Liberty Records in 1957.

In the Summer of 1957 Liberty Records issued Cochran's only studio album released during his lifetime, Singin' to My Baby . The album included "Sittin' in the Balcony". There were only a few rockers on this album, and Liberty seemed to want to move Cochran away from Rock and Roll.

International breakthrough (1958–1959)

In 1958, 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 one of the most important influences on rock and roll in the 1950s, both lyrically and musically. The song, released by Liberty recording no. 55144, charted at number 8 in 1957. Cochran's brief career included a few more hits, such as "C'mon, Everybody", "Somethin' Else", "Teenage Heaven", and his posthumous UK number one hit "Three Steps to Heaven". He remained popular in the US and UK through the late 1950s and early 1960s, and more of his records were posthumous hits, such as "My Way", "Weekend", and "Nervous Breakdown".

Another aspect of Cochran's short but brilliant career is his work as backup musician and producer. [7] 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 bass voice, as heard on "Summertime Blues". The recordings were issued on the album A Gene Vincent Record Date. [8]

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. Cochran's friends and family later said that he was badly shaken by their deaths, and he developed a morbid premonition that he also would die young. It was shortly after their deaths that he recorded a song (written by disc jockey Tommy Dee) in tribute to them, "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. Financial responsibilities, however, required that he continue to perform live, and that led to his acceptance of an offer to tour the United Kingdom in 1960.

UK tour and death (1960)

Memorial plaque at Rowden Hill, Chippenham Eddy Cochran Memorial - geograph.org.uk - 1751937.jpg
Memorial plaque at Rowden Hill, Chippenham

On Saturday, April 16, 1960, at about 11:50 p.m., while on tour in the United Kingdom, 21-year-old Cochran was involved in a traffic accident in a taxi travelling through Chippenham, Wiltshire, on the A4. The driver lost control due to excessive speed, and the vehicle crashed into a lamppost on Rowden Hill, where a plaque now marks the spot. No other car was involved. [9] Cochran, who was seated in the centre of the back seat, threw himself over his fiancée (songwriter Sharon Sheeley) to shield her and was thrown out of the car when the door flew open. He was taken to St Martin's Hospital, in Bath, where he died of severe head injuries at 4:10 p.m. the following day. [10] Cochran's body was flown home, and his remains were buried on April 25, 1960, at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Cypress, California. [11]

Sharon Sheeley, tour manager Pat Thompkins, and singer Gene Vincent survived the crash, Vincent sustaining lasting injuries to an already permanently damaged leg that would shorten his career and affect him for the rest of his life. The taxi driver, George Martin (not related to producer George Martin), was convicted of dangerous driving, fined £50 (and in default of payment six months imprisonment), and disqualified from driving for 15 years.[ citation needed ] His driving licence was reinstated in 1969.[ citation needed ]

The car and other items from the crash were impounded at the local police station until a coroner's inquest could be held. David Harman, a police cadet at the station, who would later become known as Dave Dee of the band Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, is said to have played Cochran's impounded Gretsch. [12]

A memorial stone commemorating Cochran was placed on the grounds of St Martin's Hospital, in Bath. [13] The stone was restored in 2010 (on the 50th anniversary of his death) and can be found in the old chapel grounds at the hospital. A memorial plaque was also placed next to the sundial at the back of the old chapel. [14] In 2018 it was reported that the plaque would be replaced by a statue. [15]

Posthumous releases and honors

A posthumous album, My Way , was released in 1964. Cochran was a prolific performer, and the British label Rockstar Records has released more of his music posthumously than was released during his life. The company is still looking for unpublished songs. One of his posthumous releases was "Three Stars", a tribute to J. P. Richardson, better known as the Big Bopper, and Cochran's friends Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens, who had all died in a plane crash just one year earlier. Written just hours after the tragedy by disc jockey Tommy Dee, it was recorded by Cochran two days later (Dee recorded his own version several weeks later). His voice broke during the spoken lyrics about Valens and Holly.

In 1987, Cochran was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. [16] His pioneering contribution to the genre of rockabilly has also been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Several of his songs have been re-released since his death, such as "C'mon Everybody", which was a number 14 hit in 1988 in the UK. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 84 on its 2003 list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. Cochran's life is chronicled in several publications, including Don't Forget Me: The Eddie Cochran Story, by Julie Mundy and Darrel Higham ( ISBN   0-8230-7931-7), and Three Steps to Heaven, by Bobby Cochran ( ISBN   0-634-03252-6). The Very Best of Eddie Cochran was released by EMI Records on June 2, 2008. On September 27, 2010, the mayor of Bell Gardens, California, declared October 3, 2010, to be "Eddie Cochran Day" to celebrate the famous musician who began his career when living in that city.

Style and influence

Cochran was one of the first rock-and-roll artists to write his own songs and overdub tracks. He is also credited with being one of the first to use an unwound third string in order to "bend" notes up a whole tone—an innovation (imparted to UK guitarist Joe Brown, who secured much session work as a result) that has since become an essential part of the standard rock guitar vocabulary. Artists such as Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Van Halen, Tom Petty, Rod Stewart, T. Rex, Cliff Richard, the Who, Stray Cats, the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the White Stripes, the Sex Pistols, Sid Vicious, Rush, Simple Minds, George Thorogood, Guitar Wolf, Paul McCartney, Alan Jackson, the Move, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Hallyday and U2 [17] have covered his songs.

It was because Paul McCartney knew the chords and words to "Twenty Flight Rock" that he became a member of the Beatles. John Lennon was so impressed that he invited McCartney to play with his band, the Quarrymen. Jimi Hendrix performed "Summertime Blues" early in his career, and Pete Townshend of the Who was heavily influenced by Cochran's guitar style ("Summertime Blues" was a staple of live performances by the Who for most of their career, until the death of the bassist and vocalist John Entwistle in 2002, and is featured on their album Live at Leeds ). The glam-rock artist Marc Bolan had his main Gibson Les Paul guitar refinished in a transparent orange to resemble the Gretsch 6120 played by Cochran, who was his music hero. [18] He was also an influence on the guitar player Brian Setzer, of Stray Cats, who plays a 6120 almost like that of Cochran, whom he portrayed in the film La Bamba .[ citation needed ]

Filmography

YearFilmRoleDistributor
1956 The Girl Can't Help It Himself 20th Century Fox
1957 Untamed Youth Bong Warner Bros.
1959 Go, Johnny, Go Himself Hal Roach Studios

Discography

Albums

US albums

UK albums

Singles

YearTitles (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
Peak chart positionsUS Album
US UK
1954"Two Blue Singin' Stars"
b/w "Mr. Fiddle"
Both tracks by the Cochran Brothers
Non-album tracks
"Your Tomorrow Never Comes"
b/w "Guilty Conscience"
Both tracks by the Cochran Brothers
1955"Walkin' Stick Boogie"
b/w "Rollin'"
Both tracks by Jerry Capeheart Featuring the Cochran Brothers
"Tired and Sleepy"
b/w "Fool's Paradise"
Both sides by the Cochran Brothers
1956"Skinny Jim"
b/w "Half Loved"
1957"Sittin' in the Balcony"
b/w "Dark Lonely Street" (non-album track)
1823Singin' to My Baby
"Mean When I'm Mad"
b/w "One Kiss"
29
"Drive In Show"
b/w "Am I Blue" (non-album track)
82Eddie Cochran
"Twenty Flight Rock"
b/w "Cradle Baby" (from Singin' to My Baby)
Never to Be Forgotten
1958"Jeannie Jeannie Jeannie"
b/w "Pocketful of Hearts"
94Non-album tracks
"Teresa"
b/w "Pretty Girl"
Summertime Blues"
b/w "Love Again" (from Never to Be Forgotten)
818Eddie Cochran
"C'mon Everybody"
b/w "Don't Ever Let Me Go" (non-album track)
356
1959"Teenage Heaven"
b/w "I Remember" (non-album track)
99
"Somethin' Else"
b/w "Boll Weevil Song" (from Never to Be Forgotten)
5822
"Hallelujah I Love Her So"
b/w "Little Angel" (from Never to Be Forgotten)
22
1960"Three Steps to Heaven"
b/w "Cut Across Shorty"
1
"Lonely"41Never to Be Forgotten
"Sweetie Pie"38
1961"Weekend"
b/w "Lonely" (US); "Cherished Memories" (UK)
15

The following songs also made the following chart entries in the UK:

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References

  1. 1 2 "Eddie Cochran Biography". The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
  2. 1 2 Cochran, Bobby; Van Hecke, Susan (2003). Three Steps to Heaven: The Eddie Cochran Story. Hal Leonard. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  3. "allmusic ((( Eddie Cochran > Biography )))". www.allmusic.com. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
  4. Three Steps to Heaven. books.google.com. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
  5. "Eddie Cochran". Gretsch Guitars. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  6. "Eddie Cochran". www.rockabillyhall.com.
  7. 1 2 "THE EDDIE COCHRAN STORY ON PAUL VIDAL's BIG V JAMBOREE". www.bigvjamboree.com.
  8. Eddie Cochran's Sessions Archived August 10, 2016, at the Wayback Machine , eddiecochran.info; retrieved May 26, 2013.
  9. Stanton, Scott The Tombstone Tourist: Musicians. Simon and Schuster. 2003. p. 52. ISBN   0743463307 . Retrieved July 21, 2010.
  10. "Certified Copy of an Entry of Death: Edward Ray Cochran". County Borough of Bath. July 2, 1960. Retrieved January 30, 2014.
  11. Cochran, Bobby; Van Hecke, Susan (2003). Three Steps to Heaven: The Eddie Cochran Story. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard. p. 203. ISBN   0-634-03252-6
  12. Kimmet, Ian (October 9, 2001). "Seance with a Gretsch G 6120".
  13. Eddie Cochran Memorial Plaque at St. Martin's Hospital in Bath. Flickr. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  14. "Remembering Eddie Cochran". Bath Chronicle . April 19, 2012. Archived from the original on May 24, 2013. Retrieved September 9, 2012.  via  HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  15. "Cochran fans plan statue in death town". BBC News. August 26, 2016. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  16. "Eddie Cochran". Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
  17. Axver, Matthias Muehlbradt, Andre. "U2 C'mon Everybody - U2 on tour". U2gigs.com. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  18. Bacon, Tony. 50 Years of the Gibson Les Paul. Backbeat Books. p. 71. ISBN   0-87930-711-0.
  19. 1 2 CD liner notes: Eddie Cochran, Singin' to My Baby and Never to Be Forgotten, 1993 EMI Records.
Bibliography