50 years ago this Spring, Eddie Cochran died in a auto accident while on tour in England; he was 21. Cochran had burst onto the scene four years earlier in a Tom Ewell musical comedy, The Girl Can’t Help It, with “Twenty Flight Rock.”
Cochran went on to chart with hits like “Summertime Blues,” “C’mon Everybody,” “Teenage Heaven,” and “Nervous Breakdown.” He was one of the first rock & roll artists to write his own songs and overdub tracks, and he’s credited with being one of the first to use an unwound third string, in order to ‘bend’ notes up a whole tone – an innovation (imparted to UK guitarist Joe Brown, who secured much session work as a result) which has since become an essential part of the standard rock guitar vocabulary.
His influence was vast: he was covered– and imitated– by artists including The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Clash, and The Beach Boys, and as various as Buck Owens and The Sex Pistols. But perhaps most historically: it was because Paul McCartney knew the chord and words to “Twenty Flight Rock” that he became a member of The Beatles; John Lennon was so impressed that he invited Paul to play with his band, The Quarrymen.
ToTH to the good folks at The Selvedge Yard, where readers can find more pix of Eddie.
As we paise famous men, we might recall that it was on this date in 1981 that Bob Marley, who had become the very avatar of Reggae, died of cancer in a Miami hospital; he was 36.