Eddie Cochran – an article, a version first published in Vive Le Rock Magazine


Eddie Cochran 03/10/1938 – 17/04/1960

Eddie Cochran is one of that select gang of Rock N Roll stars whose careers were tragically cut short, snatched away in their prime. Although just 21 when he died in hospital on 17th April 1960, the result of a car crash the previous night, Eddie Cochran left behind a hugely influential legacy that still permeates popular music to this day, pioneering when he was alive and the way his music has been adopted since his death. In 1954 Elvis was the first to bring Rockabilly music to the attention of the masses, Carl Perkins was the first white guitar-slinging, song-writing national Rockabilly hero of the day when his ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ scored a three-way smash in 1956,  Eddie Cochran was undoubtedly inspired by both. That said he was an innovator in his own right who probably went on to directly influence a wider spectrum of musicians and bands than his ground-breaking predecessors, but of course, chicken and egg and all that.

Eddie’s career started aged 16 when he teamed up with Hank Cochran to become the Cochran Brothers even though they were no relation recording and releasing some great Hillbilly and  proto-Rockabilly tracks on the tiny Ekko label, including the revered, ‘Pink Peg Slacks’ . The Cochran Brothers went their separate ways in early 1956 and Eddie embarked on a solo career. In these early days he was also doing plenty of session work including for Gene Vincent, Baker Knight and Skeets McDonald on whose track ‘You Ought To See Granma Rock’ the singer is famously pleading when calling for the Eddie’s guitar solo, to ‘Rock it but dooooon’t ruin it’, before the guitar lets rip in style, of course rocking it and not ruining it.

Eddie’s big break came when he was given a slot on classic 1956 Rock N Roll flick ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’ performing ‘Twenty Flight Rock’ with some almost peerless slap bass provided by Connie ‘Guybo’ Smith on the track but not seen in the movie. That film clip though less than two minutes long captures for ever the now iconic image of the young Eddie toting his Gretsch 6210 like a machine gun. As well as knowing his way around the studio as a session musician he was one of the early exponents of multi-track recording when quite often the norm was try and get a perfect ‘live’ cut. Eddie often played multiple instruments on his recordings.

1957 saw Eddie’s first chart success with ‘Sitting On The Balcony’ reaching number 18 in the Billboard Hot 100 though it wasn’t one of his own compositions. Even though ‘Balcony’ went on to sell 1m copies 1958 was the year that Eddie hit it big with his own co-written songs, the now iconic hits ‘Summertime Blues’ ‘C’mon Everybody’ ‘Teenage Heaven’ and ‘Something Else’. Eddie arrived in the UK with Gene Vincent in December in December 1959 where they toured and appeared on TV extensively winning crowds everywhere they went. Four months later a car taking Eddie and Gene to Heathrow crashed and snuffed out the life and career of Eddie Cochran. His death made front page news in the UK but barely a paragraph the States, though 50 years later Eddie’s influence can still be heard the World over.

©Simon Nott

Footnotes.

Eddie Cochran’s influence can be heard in a whole host of musical styles. His songs have been covered by bands as diverse at The Beach Boys, The New York Dolls, The Beatles, Tom Petty, Motorhead, The Clash, Simple Minds and famously in 1978 and 1979 by The Sex Pistols with Sid Vicious on vocals recording ‘Something Else’ and ‘C’mon Everybody.’ Covering those songs was considered virtually sacrilegious by the Teds though the irony was that many Punk kids heard those versions  before Eddie’s originals and were then the catalyst for discovering Eddie Cochran and Rockabilly music which was to itself hit contemporary commercial chart success again in 1979 and early 1980s.

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Eddie’s use of the Gretsch 6210 influenced Duane Eddie, Eric Clapton and later Brian Setzer to name a few to pick one up. Brian Setzer, The Reverend Horton Heat and The Living End’s Chris Cheney all have signature models commercially available.

http://www.simonnott.co.uk

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3 thoughts on “Eddie Cochran – an article, a version first published in Vive Le Rock Magazine

  1. Duane Eddy bought his Gretsch 6120 in 1957, as he wanted a guitar with a vibrato, a Bigsby. He was playing a Les Paul at the time, and traded it for the Gretsch. I really don’t think that Eddie Cochran had any influence as to Duane Eddy’s choice of guitar. Perhaps you should ask him.

    • Hi Bobbi, I did ask him and you are correct but I am glad I did because he told me some great stories, they were actually great friends who met and got on very well, they both already had Gretsch guitars. I think you will enjoy reading the interview, it will be in Vive Le Rock I won’t spoil things but they had plans. Thanks once again, if you hadn’t commented and I probably wouldn’t have mentioned Eddie and not got some wonderful stories.

  2. Thanks for the info Bobbi and for taking the time to reply. I am interviewing Duane on Wednesday for Vive Le Rock and I certainly will, my information could easily be wrong and it will be interesting to hear the truth from the man himself. Thanks once again.

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