Inspired by the October 24 birthdays of The Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman, ANOHNI, Drake, Monica, The Big Bopper, V V Brown, and Lipps Inc.’s Steve Greenberg.
On March 28, 1958, 19-year-old Eddie Cochran recorded a song he co-wrote with his manager, Jerry Capeheart, called “Summertime Blues.” It was intended to be the b-side of a single whose a-side, “Love Again,” was written by 17-year-old Sharon Steely, who soon became Cochran’s girlfriend. Liberty Records released the 45 with “Summertime Blues” as the a-side. Five months after he recorded it, Cochran had his first U.S. top ten single. In the fall of 1958, the record became a hit in England.
Besides singing and co-writing the song, Cochran produced it. His talents didn’t stop there. He could play piano, drums, bass and guitar, the latter of which he played on records by two dozen other acts.
Cochran’s popularity overseas led to a hugely successful tour of England in the spring of 1960, culminating on April 16 with a performance at the Hippodrome Theater in Bristol. On his way to the airport after the show, Cochran got into a cab with Steely, who was now his fiancée, his tour manager, Patrick Thompkins, and fellow performer Gene Vincent. The taxi driver was speeding on a dark and winding street. The car blew a tire and the driver lost control of the vehicle, crashing it into a lamppost. Cochran put himself over his fiancée to protect her and ended up being thrown from the car. Suffering a severe head injury, he was brought to the hospital. The following afternoon he was pronounced dead. He was just 21 years old.
Eddie Cochran’s time with us was far too short, but his legacy lives on. “Summertime Blues” is an undeniable rock and roll classic, covered by many artists of different genres, including The Who, Alan Jackson, Blue Cheer, The Beach Boys, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and Olivia Newton-John. Cochran’s “C’mon Everybody” was later recorded by Sex Pistols, and his “Twenty Flight Rock” was played by a teenage Paul McCartney at his audition for a teenage John Lennon to let McCartney join Lennon’s band, The Quarreymen.
Today is Throwback Thursday, and Tunes du Jour revisits some of the hits of 1958, kicking off with Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues.”
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On this date in 1959, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper died in a plane crash. In his hit “American Pie” Don McLean referred to it as “the day the music died.” A little dramatic, no? The music didn’t die, but it was a tremendous loss nonetheless.
Today Tunes du Jour pays homage to these late, great rock and roll pioneers. On our playlist:
“Chantilly Lace” – The Big Bopper – The man born Jiles Perry Richardson’s only top ten hit, from 1958.
“Think It Over” – Buddy Holly – A top forty single from 1958.
“Donna” – Ritchie Valens – Valens’ only top ten hit, peaking at #2 in early 1959.
“American Pie” – Madonna – Madonna covered Don McLean’s classic for her film The Next Best Thing at the suggestion of her co-star, Rupert Everett, who sings backing vocals on the recording.
“Oh, Boy!” – Buddy Holly – A top ten single from early 1958. I recall Olivia Newton-John performing it on one of her television specials with guest stars Andy Gibb, Elton John and Cliff Richard. If memory serves, it went on for about forty minutes.
“Heartbeat” – Buddy Holly – The Knack covered this for their breakthrough album, Get The Knack.
“It’s So Easy” – Linda Ronstadt – Ronstadt had a top five hit with her cover of this song, written by Buddy Holly and Norman Petty. Ronstadt also charted with covers of Holly’s hits “That’ll Be the Day” and “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore.”
“Not Fade Away” – The Crickets – An English quintet who went by the name The Rolling Stones charted in the US for the first time with their version of this tune. Not sure what happened to them.
“Buddy Holly” – Weezer – Buddy Holly couldn’t have predicted this song’s opening lines – “What’s with these homies dissing my girl? / Why do they gotta front?”
“Everyday” – Buddy Holly – James Taylor charted with his cover of this in 1985.
“La Bamba” – Ritchie Valens – It’s hard to believe this song only peaked at #22 upon its release in 1958. “La bamba” is Spanish for “the bamba.”
“Peggy Sue” – Lou Reed – This song was co-written by Buddy Holly, who took it to #3 in 1957.
“It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” – Buddy Holly – Holly didn’t write this posthumous hit; Paul Anka did. This and “My Way” are my two favorite Anka compositions. I also love “(You’re) Having My Baby,” but in a different way.
“Words of Love” – Patti Smith – A pop combo from England covered this Holly composition on their album that in the US was titled Beatles VI. Not sure what happened to them.
“Maybe Baby” – The Crickets – The Beatles’ name was inspired by the name of Holly’s band, The Crickets.
“I’m Gonna Love You Too” – Buddy Holly – Blondie covered this for their breakthrough album Parallel Lines.
“Come On, Let’s Go” – Los Lobos – Los Lobos performed Valen’s music for the biopic of Valen’s life, La Bamba.
“That’ll Be the Day” – Modest Mouse – Written by Buddy Holly and Jerry Allison, “That’ll Be the Day” was Holly’s first hit, going to #1 in 1957. Given his immense influence on rock and roll, it’s hard to believe he died a year and half later.
“Rave On” – Buddy Holly – One of five top forty singles Holly had in 1958.
“True Love Ways” – My Morning Jacket – Holly wrote “True Love Ways” for his wife as a wedding gift. What did your husband get you?