Eddie Cochran is a hero of mine. This cool, Gretsch Guitar wielding Rock’n’Roller inspired my younger self like no other. The cult status that Elvis Presley, James Dean and Marlon Brando gained from the 1950s was achieved with a certain amount of talent; what they had individually, I believe that Eddie Cochran the lot! He was a fantastic guitarist, gifted songwriter and a young man with film star good looks and style. During the early 1980s, when most teens my age were listening to the charts of the day, I was studying the amazing output of Eddie Cochran.
Today is the 60th Anniversary of Eddie’s tragic death at the age of only 21. He was killed, near Bristol, in a road accident after being flung out of a speeding taxi whilst travelling to the airport with Gene Vincent and his girlfriend Sharon Sheeley. To die so young, and with so much promise, is a real tragedy! I often wonder what he might have become had he lived? What recording and producing output would have poured from this very talented star?
His guitar playing was inspirational to so many fledgeling British players such as Joe Brown and a very young Paul McCartney and George Harrison. Paul impressed the slightly older John Lennon by playing Cochran’s ‘Twenty Flight Rock’ at a church fete where the two first met; a truly fateful meeting (did you see my play on words there?). Cochran, like my other tragic hero Buddy Holly, had a massive influence on The Beatles.
Last February, on the 60th Anniversary of Holly’s death, I went to The Globe Theatre in Stockton and placed some flowers near the side entrance. Holly and Cochran both played at this historic Teesside venue and I am so proud that my area hosted these unique performers during their short-lived touring careers. With the lockdown, I am unable to do the same for Eddie Cochran so I have attempted performing one of his greatest hits. In my efforts to try and do it justice, I have recorded ‘Cmon Everybody’ in the style of Cochran’s original. Gold Star Studios (the LA studio that would go onto become the creative home of my other favourite band, The Beach Boys) had a very particular sound. The echo chambers and studio trickery used by Cochran on this record are really distinct. He would alter the speed of the tape in order to play certain sections of C’mon Everybody and Summertime Blues with a capo to enrich the sound. The bass was performed with muted strings to obtain that crisp staccato to the strings. I have aimed at emulating this sound by using vintage delays and mixing desks that have caught some of the flavours. Cochran had a fantastic voice. He could rasp out the rockier numbers whilst having a lower warm baritone to the softer sections of his songs. I spent many a day trying to emulate this voice in my younger days although I tended to sound more like Buddy Holly.
Eddie Cochran is also considered to be the Grandfather of Punk. The Sex Pistols covered his ‘Somethin’ Else’ song which, in my opinion, does not sound as gritty and edgy as Cochran’s original. Who knows what sort of tougher Rock’n’Roll would have evolved had Cochran lived through the 1960s.
One song Cochran recorded as a tribute to the passing of his friend Buddy Holly (who was killed in a plane crash along with Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper in 1959) was Three Stars. I will conclude with the words he spoke in the song to Holly, “Buddy Holly I will always remember you with tears in my eyes.” The same goes to you, Eddie Cochran!
Sixty years after your passing, you are as fresh and inspiring now as you were then. Thank you very much for your lasting influence.
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