Personalities | Eddie Cochran | Innovation Personified | Guitar Heroes

One of rock’n’roll’s most influential guitarists, Eddie Cochran was born in Albert Lea, Minnesota in 1938. Eddie wanted to join the school band as a drummer, but opted for trombone when he was told that he would have to learn piano before being allowed to play drums

When advised that he didn’t have the ‘lip’ for trombone, he asked his brother to show him some chords on guitar, and from there, taught himself to play.

The family moved to California, where he formed his first group in high school. He later teamed up with Hank Cochran and the duo played country music as The Cochran Brothers (although they were not related) and made some recordings. On seeing Elvis Presley in late 1955, Eddie was inspired to switch to rock’n’roll, and The Cochran Brothers split up soon afterwards.

The year 1956 proved to be pivotal for Cochran. He recorded the Elvis-influenced ‘Twenty Flight Rock’ and performed it in the classic rock’n’roll movie The Girl Can’t Help It. The following year, he recorded what would be the only LP issued in his lifetime, Singin’ To My Baby (1957). He went on to create three seminal and frequently covered rock’n’roll songs ‘C’mon Everybody’, ‘Somethin’ Else’ and ‘Summertime Blues’.

Cochran was hugely popular in Britain. While on tour with Gene Vincent in April 1960, he was killed in a car crash in Chippenham, Wiltshire. He was 21 years old. Also in the car were his fiancée and songwriting partner Sharon Sheeley, who was not seriously injured, and Vincent, who was left with a permanent limp. ‘Three Steps to Heaven’ became a posthumous No. 1 in Britain. Cochran was a fundamental influence on the first generation of British rock’n’rollers. Paul McCartney showed John Lennon how to play ‘Twenty Flight Rock’ at their first meeting.

Cochran’s distinctive rhythmic approach both puzzled and fascinated listeners. One of his innovations was aligning the bass and guitar to equivalent harmonic frequencies. Cochran began by using a Gibson guitar, but is most closely associated with a modified 1956 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins Western model.

Essential Recordings

Solo: Twenty Flight Rock

Solo: Summertime Blues

Solo: C’mon Everybody

Solo: Somethin’ Else

Personalities | Ry Cooder | Session & Solo Supremo | Guitar Heroes


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