American rock'n'roll star Eddie Cochran dies, at the age of 21, in the afternoon of Easter Sunday 17 April 1960 at the St. Martin's Hospital in Bath. His death came as a result of injuries sustained in a car crash just outside Chippenham, on Saturday, April 16, 1960, at about 11.50 p.m.
At the end of a successful UK tour Eddie Cochran together with his girlfriend songwriter Sharon Sheeley, Gene Vincent and their tour-manager Pat Thompkins were heading to London from Bristol in a Ford Consul taxi driven by George Martin. The driver lost control on a bend at Rowden Hill in Chippenham and spun backwards into a concrete lamp post. Cochran, who was seated in the center of the back seat, threw himself over his fiancée Sharon Sheeley, to shield her, and was thrown out of the car when the door flew open. The driver and Pat Thompkins were able to walk away from the wreckage uninjured. Sharon Sheeley 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. The taxi driver, George Martin, was convicted of dangerous driving, fined £50, disqualified from driving for 15 years.
|The wrecked Ford Consul|
Born as Edward Raymond Cochran on 3 October 1938 in Albert Lea, Minnesota, Eddie moved with his family to Bell Gardens, California in 1953. From an early age on he was involved with music, playing in the school band and teaching himself to play the guitar. In 1955 he formed a duet with the guitarist Hank Cochran but they split the following year. Cochran began a song-writing career with Jerry Capehart. In July 1956, Eddie Cochran's first solo single “Skinny Jim” was released. His first success came with the song "Twenty Flight Rock" in the film “The Girl Can't Help It” with Jayne Mansfield. In 1957 Cochran starred in his second film “Untamed Youth” with his first hit "Sittin' in the Balcony".
|Eddie Cochran, age 7|
|Eddie Cochran, age 15|
|Eddie Cochran with guitarist Hank Cochran as "The Cochran Brothers"|
In 1958 he scored with the influential song "Summertime Blues", written together with Jerry Capehart. Cochran's brief career included only a few more hits, such as "C'mon, Everybody", "Somethin' Else", "Teenage Heaven", and "Three Steps to Heaven." Eddie Cochran remained popular in the UK throughout the 1960s and scored posthumous hits such as "My Way", "Weekend" and "Nervous Breakdown".
|Sharon Sheeley and Eddie Cochran|
Eddie Cochran's body was flown home and his remains were buried on April 25, 1960, at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Cypress, California.
"Cherished Memories" ITV documentary (2001)
Arena: "Three Steps to Heaven" BBC documentary (1982)