Tuesday, April 19, 2011


He was brash, fast, bombastic, a sort of prototype Mohammed Ali ('I'm just the same as ever - loud, electrifying, and full of personal magnetism'), and right through the middle fifties he was second only to Elvis. Most of his records sold a million each: 'Long tall sally,' 'Lucille,' 'The girl can't help it,' 'Keep a knocking,' 'Baby face'. They all sounded roughly the same: tuneless, lyricless, pre-neanderthal. There was a tenor sax solo in the middle somewhere and a constant smashed-up piano and Little Richard himself screaming his head off. Individually, the records didn't mean much. They were small episodes in one unending scream and only made sense when you put them all together.

'I used to lose half my audience right at the start, when I came up screaming out of my coffin,' he said. 'They used to run screaming down the aisles and half kill themselves scrambling out of the exits. I couldn't stop them. In the end I had to hire some boys to sit up in the gallery with a supply of shrivelled-up elastic bands, and when the audience started running, my boys would drop the elastic bands onto their heads and whisper 'Worms'.

Long-time Rock fans have always been bitterly divided about him. He wasn't a hard core rocker, being too gentle and melodic, and this eccentricity can be construed either as back-sliding or as progression. Even ten years after his death, it isn't an academic question; I have seen Rock preservation meetings reduced to brawling knuckle-dusted anarchy about it. On the wall of a pub lavatory in Gateshead, there is a scrawled legend: 'Buddy Holly lives and rocks in Tijuana, Mexico'.

Eddie Cochran was pure Rock. Other people were other kinds of Rock, country or highschool, hard, soft, good or bad or indifferent. Eddie Cochran was just Rock. Nothing else. That's it and that's all.


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