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 FIFTIES SUPERSTARS

Eddie - the star who still shines on

HE was young and talented, a fast rising star with a glittering future.
In two successful years he recorded songs which almost half a century later are regarded as rock 'n' roll classics.
But tragedy haunted Eddie Cochran, the rocker who could have been one of the movement's biggest stars.
He died in an English hospital on Easter Sunday in 1960 just a few hours after a car accident on the outskirts of the peaceful Wiltshire town of Chippenham.
Cochran left behind him numbers which have withstood the test of time and fickle changes in public appreciation to still be regarded as brilliant examples of true rock 'n' roll.
Indeed, his sounds and style have been copied by many of today's leading exponents of rock.
Eddie Cochran, the youngest of a family of five, was born in the little town of Albert Lea in Minnesota on October 3, 1938.
In 1953 he and his family moved to California, young Eddie, by now taking an interest in music and in particular in learning to play the guitar.
It was in 1955 that he met Jerry Capehart, the man who was to play a decisive role in the future career of one of early rock's true greats.
Capehart, who he met in a Bell Gardens music store, asked Cochran to record some songs.
Cochran was only too happy to oblige and together with a friend called Hank Cochran (no relation) they cut a disc for a record company called Ekko Records. It failed to do very much and Hank quit the partnership to move to Nashville.
But Eddie had caught the eye of an executive on the Liberty Records label who signed him, the result being the release of Cochran's version of a John D Loudermilk song called Sitting on the Balcony.
Like many other aspiring rock stars of the time young Cochran moulded himself on El;vis Presley, but began to develop his own style to a much greater degree when he found himself with a hit on his hands.
The following year - 1958 - saw him rise to real fame, his moment of glory coming with a song he helped to write, a number which today is probably his best known - Summertime Blues. From that point onwards came a string of hits, among them Jeannie, Jeannie, Jeannie, Teenage Heaven, Somethin' Else, and 20 Flight Rock.
Stardom led to him coming to England for a tour with Gene Vincent, then one of the true giants of rock 'n'rioll.
The crash which led to Cochran's death came after they had been appearing at the Bristol Hippodrome.
Vincent survived the accident as did another passenger, Sharon Sheeley, who was probably best known for writing the song Poor Little Fool which proved a major hit for Rick(y) Nelson.
Had he survived Cochran could have become as big a name as Presley. As it is he is still fondly remembered by an army of now middle aged fans as a great rock star of the Fifties, a singer who was never fully able to realise his true potential.
*Got a memory of an Eddie Cochran song? Or do you still play them? E-mails are welcomed.
*Our picture shows the album cover originally released in 1970 to mark the tenth anniversary of Eddie Cochran's death.

Written by The Editor - 15/05/2003 16:36:06

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