The interpret of “Twenty Flight Rock” is one of the most famous rock singers of its generation. Let’s examine his personal history and the impact he had in the music industry, during the 1950s decade.
A Reference in the Rock Industry
He was a celebrity, not only for his worldwide songs, but also for his ability with a guitar and his roles at the cinema. He was involved in music at an early age, and played in a school band. He experimented a lot of music genres, played a lot of instruments and sang a lot, speaking to his generation.
Because of his influence in the rock industry, he received, posthumously, his induction into the Rock Hall of Fame, the highest reward a singer-writer-compositor could ever expect. Many artists paid tribute to his work that marked the Rock.
Early Age and Career
Edward Ray Cochran, called “Eddie Cochran”, was born in October 1938, Minnesota, in the United States. Very quickly, he showed a deep interest in music, starting getting guitar lessons, playing in a school band and trying to reinterpret songs he heard on the radio.
Soon after he and his family moved outside his born state, in 1952, by age 14, he formed a band with two of his friends from junior high school, which led him to drop school in order to become a “professional musician”. He got the occasion to meet Hank Cochran, another singer which whom he has no relation (despite their name was identical) at the American Legion hall, and both decided to found the Cochran Brothers. They performed many songs over the years for the label Ekko and became famous.
Three years later, in 1955, he ran into Jerry Capehart, who happened to become his manager. At that time, Eddie started writing his own songs. That is how he decided to begin his “solo artist” career, and got, thanks to Capehart, a release label with Crest Records, in 1956. His did not waited too much for his first success: a few months after, he was asked to play his role in the movie The Girl Can’t Help It and to sing one of the movies’ song. Thanks to his “pretty face”, he was considered to be a good investment in both industries, the music and the cinema. That was only the beginning of his new reputation.
In only a year, he performed a lot of songs and appeared in two films. He was considered to be a rock and roll performer, and his style went with it. Shortly after, it was time for his international breakthrough, since he expatriated to the United Kingdom, where he was appreciated as an artist. In 1958, he released some of his top hits, like “C’mon Everybody” or “Teenage Heaven”.
Eddie Cochran was also a backup musician and producer, but it remained mostly unexploited because it appeared at the end of his career. He notably worked with Gene Vincent in 1959 and contributed his bass voice to his album.
He meets his fiancé Sharon Sheeley through Capehart, who happened to be her manager too, since the girl was also a singer. She followed him all his career to other places in the world, being his most important support. Both had relevant rewards despite their young age. However, Eddie Cochran’s reputation would be short-lived.
His Final Tour in the UK, in 1960
Despite his talent and his will to become famous, Eddie Cochran was marked by a terrific event: two friends of him, Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens, died in a plane crash, in 1959. This led him to depression and inward-looking attitudes. In fact, he refused several times to perform abroad, being afraid to take public transportation. Many of his close relatives said he had a sort of premonition he would die early and young. He was obsessed with this idea and disappeared from the international stage for a few months. However, he wrote a song in tribute to his friends, “Three Stars”, released in 1959 and a second time in 1966, in the UK.
Finally, and because of financial troubles, he had to accept a show in London, UK, in 1960. Ironically, his fears became true and he died in a car accident in Chippenham, Wiltshire. The taxi driver blew a tire and lost control of the vehicle. His fiancée survived, such as some of his close friends and managers. He was the only one to die that day, because of severe injuries. He was only 21 years old.
In 1964, a posthumous album was released, “My Way”, with many of his unachieved songs. Sharon Sheeley took care of that for him. Many biographies were written in his memory, and he was inducted in the Rock Hall of Fame in 1967, and recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
An Impressive Discography
Even though he was very young, Eddie Cochran has a lot of influence in the music industry, back in the 1950-1960s. The genres he played were: rock, rockabilly, country, rhymes and blues. He is considered as an inspirational musician.
His discography can easily demonstrate it, since he made US and UK albums. Among them, there was:
- Singing To My Baby (1957)
- Eddie Cochran, Liberty (1959)
- Summertime Blues (1966)
- The Very Best of Eddie Cochran (1975)
He also released singles without albums. His most famous singles were:
- Two Blue Singin’ Stars (1954)
- Walkin’ Stick Boggie (1956)
- Sittin’ In The Balcony (1957)
- Twenty Flight Rock (1957)
- Jeannie Jeannie Jeannie (1958)
- Somethin’ Else (1959)
- Hallelujah I Love Her So (1959)
- Three Steps To Heaven (1960)
- Weekend (1961)
In total, he released (alive and posthumously), 11 US albums, 11 UK albums and 20 songs (non-album). In 1988, the song “C’mon Everybody” made an impressive chart entry in the UK, with a #4. It shows his long-lasting influence in the music industry.
His notoriety led him to the cinema industry. In fact, he played his own role in two movies: The Girl Can’t Help It (1956) and Go, Johnny, Go (1959), and played a character in a Warner Bros’ movie called Untamed Youth (1957).
Cochran’s Style and Legacy
Maybe people say, and artists themselves confess it, that Cochran played an important role in their career or accession to the music industry. For example, Paul McCartney was so impressive with his realistic interpretation of Twenty Flight Rock that John Lennon invited him to be part of his band, which will become the Beatles after that. Same for the Who’s musician Pete Townshend, who performed Summertime Blues, so did Jimi Hendrix at the beginning of his career.
In a more general way, his sense for the rock (and rockabilly) was unique. He is one of the first rock and roll artists to overdub tracks, or write his own music. He was also an innovator and invented the “bend” notes that is now part of the rock industry. Many of his songs were performed by international and well-known musicians, such as Cliff Richards, Led Zeppelin, the Sex Pistols, David Bowie, U2 or Johnny Hallyday.
Even today, he remains one of the best-known artists in the rock industry and many of his singles are classics.