The tragic end to Eddie Cochran's life in a 1960 car crash resulted in a rush on his record sales, just as it happened over a year earlier when Buddy Holly died. Cochran has come to symbolize the early rebel rocker, not only due to his demise, but his haunting skills as a guitarists and composer. Over the years,
Eddie's records have remained popular. Previously undiscovered material has been released and various artists have covered his biggest hits, all of which have resulted in commercial success. In 1987, he was elected to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. In only 21 years, Eddie created a style and an image that has lived on in lore and recordings. He was definitive proof that the power of rock and roll is in the attitude.
After two years in the recording business, Cochran's life hit a turning point beginning in March 1958 when he co-wrote "Summertime Blues." Released in May, the song hit number one of the pop charts and stayed there all summer long. Now considered a rock classic, the song is still often played on radio shows throughout the world. During the summer of '58, Cochran also wrote "C 'mon Everybody" which was released late in the fall and toped the charts in the winter. Both songs presented enormous power and rebel-like force, adding perhaps for the first overt way, attitude as a key component in rock and roll.
During the next eight months Cochran recorded a handful of other hit songs including "Something Else," "Three Steps to Heaven" and "Sweetie Pie." Eddie was on the threshold of becoming a superstar as the 1960s began.
THe already was as influential in Europe as Elvis had been at a similar stage in his career. He was booked for a major European tour with Gene Vincent and Billy Fury. The tour, while in England, were given a tumultuous welcome by fans, including future Beatle George Harrison who attended almost every performance. After the tours ended in April, Eddie was anxious to get back into the recording studio with a list of new songs. However, on April 17 Eddie, girlfriend Sharon Sheeley and Gene Vincent headed for the airport in a chauffeured limousine. On the way a tire blew out and the driver lost control. The car rammed into a lamp post and Eddie died within a few hours from multiple head injuries. The driver, Sharon and Gene were also hurt but recovered fully. Shortly after his death, Eddie's last hit topped the charts, "Lonely."
In the US his death attracted little attention, but in Britain it was traumatic, and served to solidify his reputation and influence in British rock. Kids like George Harrison had followed him from town to town, and his influence was felt throughout the 60s. That influence spread back across the water, and Eddie Cochran is now recognized worldwide as one of the most important figures of pre-Beatles music.