Following the plane crash which killed his friends, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, along with the Big Bopper, just a year prior to his own tragic death, rebellious rocker Eddie Cochran was said, by his friends and family, to be emotionally disturbed by the incident, and had an unsettled premonition that he would also die young.
On 16th April 1960, on route to London to catch a flight after a show at the Bristol Hippodrome from an extended tour, his taxi crashed into a lamppost on Rowden Hill in Chippenham, a plaque there marks the disaster. The other rock n roller touring, Gene Vincent met with a broken leg which would see him walk with a limp. Other passengers, American singer Sharon Sheeley and theatrical agent Patrick Tompkins suffered minor injuries. But Eddie was thrown from the car, sustaining a major head injury, and died, aged just 21, in Bath RUH in the early hours of the following morning.
The taxi driver, George Martin, was convicted of dangerous driving, fined £50, disqualified from driving for 15 years, and sent to prison for six months. The taxi and other items from the crash were impounded by local police waiting for a coroner’s inquest. David Harman, a police cadet at the station, who would later become known as Dave Dee of the band Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, taught himself to play guitar on Cochran’s impounded Gretsch. The band’s success was slight, but the world had lost a rock n roll legend.
Eddie Cochran may never have played a gig in the town, but Chippenham has become a shrine to the legend, and many rock n roll-styled celebrations have taken place in his memory. 2020 sees the sixty-year anniversary of this tragic event, and the Neeld Hall will mark the occasion aptly: Geoff Endacott Presents: A Tribute to Eddie Cochran Featuring The Bluejays on Thursday 9th April.
They tell that “The Bluejays will be keeping his memory and his music alive with this special evening of music. The show will celebrate the music of Eddie Cochran and many other 1950s Rock ‘n’ Roll stars.”
The Bluejays formed in 2013, after years of performing together in West End rock ‘n’ roll theatre shows such as Buddy; The Buddy Holly Story, Million Dollar Quartet and Dreamboats & Petticoats and have since toured all over the world. The band created the show Rock and Roll Revolution which is touring UK theatres throughout 2019. In 2017, The Bluejays were invited out to Lubbock, Texas to play for Buddy Holly’s family. They were joined on stage by Buddy’s wife María Elena Holly who sang backing vocals during a cover of Not Fade Away. Other ‘Part-time Bluejays’ include Brian May of Queen who joined the band for a cover of Johnny B. Goode when they played at his daughter’s wedding.
Tickets for this seated event are £23, available now, here.
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