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Eddie Cochran

Somehow, time has not accorded Eddie Cochran quite the same respect as other early rockabilly pioneers like Buddy Holly, or even Ricky Nelson or Gene Vincent. This is partially attributable to his very brief lifespan as a star: he only had a couple of big hits before dying in a car crash during a British tour in 1960. He was in the same league as the best rockabilly stars, though, with a brash, fat guitar sound that helped lay the groundwork for the power chord. He was also a good songwriter and singer, celebrating the joys of teenage life -- the parties, the music, the adolescent rebellion -- with an economic wit that bore some similarities to Chuck Berry. Cochran was more lighthearted and less ironic than Berry, though, and if his work was less consistent and not as penetrating, it was almost always exuberant.

Cochran's mid-'50s beginnings in the record industry are a bit confusing. His family had moved to Southern California around 1950, and in 1955 he made his first recordings as half of the Cochran Brothers. Here's the confusing part: although the other half of the act was really named Hank Cochran, he was not Eddie's brother. (Hank Cochran would become a noted country songwriter in the 1960s.) Eddie was already an accomplished rockabilly guitarist and singer on these early sides, and he started picking up some session work as well, also finding time to make demos and write songs with Jerry Capehart, who became his manager.

Cochran's big break came about in a novel fashion. In mid-1956, while Cochran and Capehart were recording some music for low-budget films, Boris Petroff asked Eddie if he'd be interested in appearing in a movie that a friend was directing. The film was The Girl Can't Help It, and the song he would sing in it was "Twenty-Flight Rock." This is the same song that Paul McCartney would use to impress John Lennon upon their first meeting in 1957 (Paul could not only play it, but knew all of the lyrics).

Cochran had his first Top 20 hit in early 1957, "Sittin' in the Balcony," with an echo-chambered vocal reminiscent of Elvis. That single was written by John D. Loudermilk, but Eddie would write much of his material, including his only Top Ten hit, "Summertime Blues." A definitive teenage anthem with hints of the overt protest that would seep into rock music in the 1960s, it was also a technical tour de force for the time: Cochran overdubbed himself on guitar to create an especially thick sound. One of the classic early rock singles, "Summertime Blues" was revived a decade later by proto-metal group Blue Cheer, and was a concert staple for the Who, who had a small American hit with a cover version. (Let's not mention Alan Jackson's country rendition in the 1990s.)

That, disappointingly, was the extent of Cochran's major commercial success in the U.S. "C'mon Everybody," a chugging rocker that was almost as good as "Summertime Blues," made the Top 40 in 1959, and also gave Eddie his first British Top Tenner. As is the case with his buddy Gene Vincent, though, you can't judge his importance by mere chart statistics. Cochran was very active in the studio, and while his output wasn't nearly as consistent as Buddy Holly's (another good friend of Eddie's), he laid down a few classic or near-classic cuts that are just as worthy as his hits. "Somethin' Else," "My Way" (which the Who played in concert at the peak of psychedelia), "Weekend" (covered by the Move), and "Nervous Breakdown" are some of the best of these, and belong in the collection of every rockabilly fan. He was also (like Holly) an innovator in the studio, using overdubbing at a time when that practice was barely known on rock recordings.

Cochran is more revered today in Britain than the United States, due in part to the tragic circumstances of his death. In the spring of 1960, he toured the U.K. with Vincent, to a wild reception, in a country that had rarely had the opportunity to see American rock & roll stars in the flesh. En route to London to fly back to the States for a break, the car Cochran was riding in, with his girlfriend (and songwriter) Sharon Sheeley and Gene Vincent, had a severe accident. Vincent and Sheeley survived, but Cochran died less than a day later, at the age of 21. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi
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Selected Discography

Comments

Make that Labamba and the actor that played Eddie was the Stray Cats lead singer Brian Setzer.
Does any one know and remember the movie that. Eddie was in,thanks. Jespos7249
This song describes my summers. One of my favorites.
Make that the LaBomba film
The Eddie Cochran actor was too great in Lbomba movie about Ritchie Valens...Ace s , ^5
I've got an Eddie Cochran Greatest Hits CD and it's very good. Even with some over dubbing a lot of those early rock recordings have great fidelity and on a good stereo with big speakers and cranked up loud are surprisingly entertaining . It would have been interesting to see where his career would have gone had he not died so young.
I was 10 and still love His music. These were the days!
I'm only 12 and I love his music, along with Elvis' and many others such as Little Richard and Fats Domino.
Doesn't get any better
Charlie Gracie, a Philly original from the '50s who is still playing, always mentions Eddie Cochran in concert today.
marvins39
great talent; underated; music still sounds great!!
leilanilouis e
Love it
This is about good "ROCKIN MUSIC"
I Like this Song :-)
RASP!!!!! I love it!
Yes 'rand855 'I understand that but, that is not my gripe
all the GOOD ones diappear to young....
Yes, he was great. But...Eddie, like all musicians, didn't reach the level of mastery in his music without the work of those who proceeded him. By referencing Paul's use of Eddie's work is to recognize the Beattles, like all others, didn't reach the heights of their talent on their own. The Beattles stood on the shoulders of greatness. Because in part Eddie influenced everything the Beattles did after experiencing his music, just as other influenced Eddie's music. Crap?, not hardly!
Oh wow, i like eddie cochran even more, now i know it was the song paul sang for john 'and he even knew all the words'...who writes all this crap... ? The president of the nerdist beatles fan club ? Why is every 50's rock'n'roll hero given credit because 'oh the beatles did that' ... Sorry, but, that pisses me off....eddie was great, regardless of the f**kin' beatles...
to me twenty flight rock should have been in the top ten instead of summertime blues, i just like twenty flight rock better, i dont know why...
bevbevan
Eddie Cochran was a young phenom in every sense like Buddy Holly, who was - like Holly - taken away from us far too soon and under tragic circumstance s .
mcj17car
Way cool!
Something'El s e sums it up,get some wheelsand the girls will follow,WOW
I think Eddie Cochran is my favorite right now. My name is Ed too.
Love him!
ilmwa
Nice song ;) !!!!!!
sassyjan
GREAT rock-n-Roll Summertime Blues
he was a great guiartist.(s i c ) if he never sang a note
Summertime Blues, one of the all time best rock'n'roll songs ever!
Eddie was on Liberty Records
punk bands will always cover somethin' else
brijampar
Ever notice the "Eddie Cochran" in Brian Setzer's style and voice? No coincidence he was cast as Eddie in the 1987 movie La Bamba.
Gene and Eddie are still rockin, definately. RIP boys.
"Somethin' Else" is one of the all-time great statements of teen optimism.
Cochran rocked harder than any of his contemporari e s . . . t h e pride of Austin, Minnesota!
His great niece is my wife.
Summer Time Blues was as good as the "greats." A wonderful song! Saw him in person in New York at the Alan Freed Rock & Roll Show. When he sang it, he brought the house down. I always love hearing it. Didn't realize how young he was when he died. We lost many more magical songs with that loss!
I never knew that about Eddie. I always did like his music.
Eddie left us way, way too early. Long live Cochran, a true pioneer!
How have i not heard this guys stuff. he can really tear up a guitar.
bevbevan
It's ironic that Eddie Cochran recorded a song called "3 Stars" in tribute to his friend Buddy Holly, along with Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper shortly before he left for England. He should have been bigger on the charts than he became but this was due to the reverberatio n s against rock n roll by 1960, which ushered in the silly Billy Bobby Frankie era of teen idols. Cochran was a gifted musician. Gone way to soon but not forgotten by those of us who bought every record he made.
RIP Eddie Cochran - you left us way too soon.
carlyn3676
I wish to day's music was still of this quality.
lilsongbirdk r
I thought at first it was Elvis, and I looked at the name and seen it wasn't. Elvis was stronger in vocals, but it did remind me of him in his earlier years.
simplegurl16
the real KING
He was good and definitely a ground-break i n g talent in that era but to compare his voice to Elvis's is a bit of a stretch..... . . . . . .
SUMMERTIME BLUES I REMEMBER HEARING IT THEN WATCHING CHEECH MARIN SING IT ON THAT MOVIE "BORN IN EAST L.A." LOVE IT AND STILL WILL. PEACE
i really loved this guy's music.
a pioneer in rockabilly! thank you eddie for summertime blues, somethin' else, and 20 flight rock!
I never understood the teenage girls who went crazy over the singers of the 50's and 60's until I heard Eddie - I'm totally in love with this kid. He died a year after I was born - but he's my all time favorite singer!! He could have easily blasted Elvis out of the water!
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