after celebrating the 50th anniversary of the passing of buddy holly, ritchie valens and the big bopper last year, today is the day that, also 50 years ago, a musician who was very close to them passed away aswell. close to them, as a friend, as a just as highly acclaimed rock n roll star, and as a rock musician who was just as greatly influential on generations of artists up to now – who had to die much too young, just as the three. eddie cochran not only has a special place in music history, helping to make rock n roll and rockabilly what it eventually became, he has a special place in this blog, as of course the title ‘twenty flight rock’ is a tribute to one of my favourite 50s rock n rollers, if not the favourite one at all.
as eddie died so very young he did not produce many records during his lifetime, just about a dozen of 45s and a single lp – singin to my baby, released in late 1957. original pressings of course are extremely hard to track down and extremely expensive aswell, but i was very lucky to get hold of a copy of the british pressing that came out on the london label in 1958. and now i am very happy to share this with you, although i am quite sure that it has been posted on the net hundreds of times before (i didnt check that because i wanted to post it anyway), and although the remastered recordings are available so easily on all the best of and memorial releases nowadays. but if you are a nostalgic music lover (and as you have entered this blog it is very likely you are) you will surely appreciate an original vinyl rip of the original record, like millions of rockabilly crazed teenagers heard it more than fifty years ago, and scans of the original cover in 12″x12″, printed more than fifty years ago.
although eddie already wrote much of his material himself, compared to most of his contemporaries, many of the songs on this album are cover versions. but this by far is no flaw, as he turned them all into his own, fantastic style of rock n roll that made him a shooting star at the time, and thus made them his own songs in a way.
interestingly, this album was released even before cochran had his greatest hits (‘summertime blues’, ‘cmon everybody’, ‘somethin else’), and the only charting 45 at all included here is ‘drive in show’ / ‘am i blue’ (#82 in 1957). both sides are cover songs, but i love the b-side a lot. other songs that became popular despite achieving no chart success are for instance ‘sittin in the balcony’, ‘completely sweet’ and my beloved ‘twenty flight rock’. completely sweet alongside two other tracks, ‘undying love’ and ‘mean when im mad’ (both great aswell, but completely sweet is one of my very favourites) were co-written by cochrans manager jerry capehart, like most of eddies great successes were. twenty flight rock originally was written by ned fairchild (although the name may be misleading ‘ned’ is a woman, and she is still alive), but as eddie changed the song a lot (it wasnt a rock n roll song before), he was credited as a co-writer although never recieving any royalties. the lyrics rather focusing on teenage fun than on serious issues, like most of eddies hits, twenty flight rock perhaps is one of the most tongue-in-cheek one of his songs, about a young man who is not able to go out with his girl because he is terribly exhausted after walking up all the twenty flights up to her flat because “the elevators broken down”. it is not only my favourite song from this lp, but it is also the only one that usually appears on rock n roll compilations and samplers, because the other great hits werent recorded yet by the time this record was released. so it is something like a jewel among the fifteen pearls to be found on this album.
being merely a year older than i am now, he died a real rock star death in april 1960. he died in a car crash, like so many others, like johnny kidd, mark leeman, j.b. lenoir, bessie smith, marc bolan and not least gene vincent, who survived the crash that killed eddie but eventually died from the injuries suffered more than ten years later. marc bolan, then still called mark feld (like bob dylan he didnt seem to want to keep his jewish name) and a fan of cochrans, had carried eddies guitar to the car before the crash – of course this coincidence is a rich source for conspiracies. the same guitar, however, when it was impounded by the police, was taken by a policeman who later was to become dave dee of dave dee, dozy, beaky, mick & tich. he died from cancer last year.
hadnt so many musicians died so young and so tragically, i think rock&roll; would not have the same exciting and mystic appeal that it had and still has to young people from all generations. eddie cochran has already been raised into the olympus of the rock and roll hall of fame more than twenty years ago, so he recieved the possibly highest posthumous honor already. well of course i cannot contribute a lot to that by writing this short ‘obituary’ about him in this humble blog, but lets just think of this great man for a while and enjoy his great music as it was intended to when he played and sang it.
to continue this, some 45s by this legend are to follow, so stay tuned. i walk one, two flight, three flight, four, five, six, seven flight, eight flight, more…