Eddie Cochran had just performed at Bristol’s Hippodrome Theater and was traveling in a taxi with fellow rocker Gene “Be Bop-A-Lula” Vincent on a Saturday night. They had been performing in England since January and this was the final scheduled concert on the tour. They were traveling along Bath Road from Bristol to London in a taxi driven by a 19 year old named George Martin. Also traveling with them was a young singer-songwriter-Eddie’s fiance 20 year old Sharon Sheeley. Shortly before midnight the driver Martin who was traveling at excessive speed lost control and the vehicle crashed into a concrete lamppost at Rowden Hill in Chippenham. Eddie Cochran was seated in the middle of the back seat and threw himself over Sheeley to shield her. The left rear passenger door opened due to the collision and Cochran was thrown out and suffered a massive traumatic brain injury. Everyone was taken to the hospital- Cochran never regained consciousness and passed away at 4:10 AM the next morning Easter Sunday. Eddie Cochran was 21 years old.
Eddie Cochran was born in Albert Lea, Minnesota in October 1938. In his early teens the family moved to the Los Angeles area. He dropped out of high school in his first year to become a professional musician. He got his first big break in 1956 when he was asked to perform in the movie The Girl Can’t Help It- he performed his song “Twenty Flight Rock” in the movie. Of course BeatleManiacs know the story of- the greatest day of the 20th Century- July 6, 1957 when John and Paul met. John was impressed by the fact that 15 year old Paul knew the chords and words to “Twenty Flight Rock” that John asked Paul to join his group The Quarrymen.”
Eddie Cochran was more popular in the United Kingdom than he was in his homeland- he had 3 Top 40 hits in the US compared to 10 in the UK. The song he is most remembered for of course is “Summertime Blues”- a true rock and roll classic that has been covered by many other artists- most famously by The Who. Here is Eddie’s version.
Here are a couple more of my favorites from Eddie Cochran- “Somethin’ Else” and “C’mon Everybody.”
Eddie Cochran was a big influence on many future rockers. It seems to me that he has largely been forgotten today. He was only 21 when he was tragically killed in that accident. You can never predict the future but I think Eddie had a lot more to offer- if you go by what he accomplished in his too brief career. Eddie Cochran was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987- in the second class to be enshrined.