The Legacy and Importance Of Legendary Rocker Eddie Cochran

The influential Rocker was born on this day in 1938

The Legacy and Importance Of Legendary Rocker Eddie Cochran

Rock N’ Roll legend Eddie Cochran was born on October 3, 1938 in Albert Lea, Minnesota, United States. Cochran’s influence on Rock music reaches several different sub-genres, from Psychedelic Rock to Punk Rock to Proto Metal.

He learned how to play guitar during his teens and dropped out High School when he thought he had enough control over the instrument to start making a living from music. The 17 year old Eddie Cochran got his big break in 1956 when he was invited by producer and director Boris Petroff to appear in the musical comedy film “The Girl Can’t Help It” starring Jayne Mansfield. Cochran agreed and performed the song “Twenty Flight Rock” in the movie. Soon after he became one of the earliest and  biggest Rock stars in the world, between 1957 and 1959 he had a string of hits including the smashing “Summertime Blues”, “C’mon Everybody” and “Somethin’ Else”. Despite his very young age, Cochran also collaborated and performed with many artists during his short career, he was a prolific performer, songwriter and producer. When in 1959 three of his friends died on in a plane crash, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper and Buddy Holly, Cochran developed a fear of touring and had plans to stop touring and do studio work only, however, due to the success he was also enjoying outside the United States, in 1960 he accepted to travel to Europe to do a tour. On Saturday, April 16, 1960, while on tour in the United Kingdom, Cochran was involved in a traffic accident in a taxi , the speeding taxi blew a tire, the driver lost control, and the vehicle crashed into a lamppost. Eddie, who was seated in the center of the back seat, threw himself over his fiancée, the songwriter Sharon Sheeley, to shield her and was thrown out of the car when the door flew open. He was taken to St Martin’s Hospital where he died of severe head injuries with only 21 years old. Cochran’s body was flown home, and his remains were buried on April 25, 1960, at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Cypress, California. Sharon Sheeley, tour manager Pat Thompkins, and singer Gene Vincent survived the crash, Vincent sustaining lasting injuries to an already permanently damaged leg that would shorten his career and affect him for the rest of his life. Strangely enough, 7 years later, Jayne Mansfield born in the same year as Eddie, and the star in the movie that gave him his big break in 1957, died on similar circumstances in a car crash suffering head injuries.

Legacy and Influence

Eddie Cochran’s legacy in Rock music is immense, maybe one of the biggest ones is being the man that got John Lennon and Paul McCartney together to form a band. Story goes that teenager Paul McCartney knew the chords and words to “Twenty Flight Rock” and John Lennon was so impressed that he invited him to play with his band, the Quarrymen. But The Beatles were not the only famous band Cochran was indirectly responsible to put together, on the day of the tragic accident that killed him the car and other items from the crash were impounded at the local police station until a coroner’s inquest could be held. David Harman, a police cadet at the station taught himself to play guitar on Cochran’s impounded Gretsch, he would later become known as Dave Dee of the band Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich who made some memorable songs during the late 1960’s such as “Legend Of Xanadu”. Cochran also had a big impact and influence in Punk Rock, when the first wave of Punk Rock bands were formed, a lot cited him as an influence, most notably, his songs were famously covered and recorded by the Sex Pistols and Sid Vicious. During the whole 1960’s decade Cochran also influenced some of the main names of the Psychedelic Rock movement, as for example proto-metal band Blue Cheer who had a hit with the cover of his song “Summertime Blues” in 1968. Among the many names that cited Eddie as an influence and have recorded or covered his songs are: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Van Halen, Tom Petty, Rod Stewart, Motörhead, Humble Pie, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, Lemmy Kilmister, the Head Cat, the Damned, UFO, T. Rex, Stray Cats, Brian Setzer, Cliff Richard, the Who, the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Blue Cheer, Led Zeppelin, the White Stripes, the Sex Pistols, Sid Vicious Rush, Dion, Simple Minds, Paul McCartney, Alan Jackson, the Move, David Bowie, Dick Dale, Teenage Head, Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix, and U2. Eddie Cochran was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987

Watch Eddie Cochran performing one of his biggest hits “C’mon Everybody” in 1959

Listen to some of Eddie Cochran’s best songs compiled by Pop Expresso on Spotify

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