Don’t Forget Me: The Eddie Cochran Story
In baseball, a five-tool player is recognized as one with superstar potential, able to throw, run, field, hit for average and hit with power. In rock ‘n’ roll, Eddie Cochran was a five-tool musician, with skills as a guitarist, singer, songwriter, arranger and producer.
Best known for the hits “Summertime Blues” and “C’mon Everybody”, Cochran’s life was cut short in April 1960 when he died at 21 in a car crash while on tour in England. In the first full-length biography of Cochran, Mundy, a journalist, and Higham, a musician, succeed in pulling him from the shadow of his better-known contemporaries to present a balanced look at one of rock’s pioneers.
As a child, Cochran learned a few chords on his brother’s guitar. Soon, he and the instrument became inseparable. After his family moved to Los Angeles in the early 1950s, he got into the thriving country music scene and hooked up with future Nashville songwriter Hank Cochran (no relation) to form the Cochran Brothers.
Eddie continued to refine his skills as a session guitarist, backing up country singers Wynn Stewart and Skeets McDonald, but his interest extended to all genres of music. “It was one of Eddie’s desires to be able to sit down and play with anyone from B.B. King to Chet Atkins to Joe Maphis,” Chuck Foreman, an early musician friend of Cochran, told the authors. Cochran recorded with Maphis and jammed with King.
With the rise of Elvis Presley in 1956, the Cochran Brothers split up after a few unsuccessful singles as Eddie pursued a career in rock ‘n’ roll. He hooked up with songwriter/manager Jerry Capehart and they became a songwriting team, making demos of tunes for American Music. Cochran gained invaluable experience as a producer and arranger, experimenting with overdubbing. The duo’s breakthrough came with “Summertime Blues” in June 1958. Its driving acoustic guitars and humorous lyrics captured the essence of teenage frustration, and the song became a classic.
Cochran’s follow-up singles never cracked the Top 10 in the United States, but remained of a high quality. “C’mon Everybody” showed Cochran to be the equal of Chuck Berry in chronicling teenage life, while “Somethin’ Else” was ahead of its time with its driving bass and drums. “Hallelujah, I Love Her So” was a tribute to Cochran’s love of Ray Charles’ music.
Don’t Forget Me (the title comes from an inscription Cochran used when giving autographs) presents a comprehensive account of Cochran’s final tour, capturing the highs and lows of his British experiences. Offstage with co-headliner Gene Vincent, Cochran resorted to drinking to fight loneliness and homesickness.
Cochran’s music influenced musicians from Pete Townshend to Jimi Hendrix to Brian Setzer. Don’t Forget Me is a good step in assuring his contributions will be remembered.