FAVOURITE GUITARISTS – EDDIE COCHRAN
GUITAR LESSONS LONDON‘S FRIEND PAUL WOOD IN WITH A STORMING ADDITION IN OUR BRILLIANT SERIES OF FAVOURITE GUITARISTS…..THIS TIME ITS EDDIE COCHRAN
One of the classic early rock’n’roll guitarists, Eddie Cochran had only a 4 year period in the spotlight to create and cement his trademark sound, which still continues to be relevant today. Just think of “C’mon Everybody” and “Summertime Blues” and you’ve immediately got the Eddie Cochran sound in your head.
Here’s the single version of “C’mon Everybody” to get you in the mood:
Like another early pioneer Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran was able to combine inventive guitar playing and trademark riffs with songs that captured the sound of Teenage America with humour and flash. He also had the charisma, looks and the writing/arranging/multi-instrumental skills to suggest he could have been an even bigger star if he had survived longer than his 4 year spell in the limelight.
Self-taught on guitar, Eddie could play all styles of guitar and was equally at home on ballads as well as his out and out rockers. Although renowned for his trademark rhythm sound, as documented on “C’mon Everybody”/Summertime Blues/Somethin’ Else”, he was also a very tasty lead player and often contributed lead to other people’s recordings. Here’s Eddie showing he can play the blues on his instrumental tune, Eddie’s Blues. Check out the lightning lead breaks at 1.19 and then again at 3.16:
Signed to Liberty in 1956 at the age of 17, his first releases were “Sittin’ In The Balcony” and “Twenty Flight Rock” (which Eddie featured in the classic rock’n’roll film “The Girl Can’t Help It). Here’s a clip from the film showing Eddie playing “Twenty Flight Rock:
1958 produced two bona fide smash hits – “C’mon Everybody” and “Summertime Blues”.
Here’s a live TV clip of Eddie playing “C’mon Everybody”:
And here’s a Youtube lesson discussing and playing “Summertime Blues”:
1959 produced another Cochran classic -“Somethin’ Else”.
A firm favourite of the early UK rock’n’roll guitarists, he was credited by “Big” Jim Sullivan as the man who showed him how to get the American rock’n’roll bendy string sound by replacing the normal 3rd string with a much lighter 2nd string. This was an idea which Joe Brown (also on the Cochran/Vincent tour bill) saw and adopted.
Sadly, Eddie was to die at the age of 21 while on a tour of the UK in 1960. Returning to London after the last gig of the tour in Bristol, for a flight back to the States, Eddie’s taxi went off the road and hit a lamppost – killing Eddie and badly injuring his tour co-star, Gene Vincent.
His legend lives on in his recordings and the tributes paid by later stars such as Brian Setzer – his love of the Gretsch guitar being inspired by the image and sound of the young Eddie Cochran.
Eddie was famously associated with playing an orange Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins hollow body guitar.
Gretsch have honoured Eddie through their production of both the G6120 Eddie Cochran Signature Hollow Body guitar and the (very expensive) limited edition G6120 EC Eddie Cochran Tribute Custom Shop guitar.
For an excellent video demonstration of the Tribute guitar and a discussion of the Eddie Cochran sound, see this video featuring rockabilly guitarist Darrel Higham (Imelda May Band):
“Singin’ To My Baby” (the only album Eddie released in his lifetime)
The Eddie Cochran Story (4 CD box set)