Eddie Cochran, Remembering – nearly 50 years on
By Ian Wooley, former DJ and MD of Retro Nights
IT WAS 20 years ago when local Eddie Cochran fan Angela Powell first laid a memorial on the Chippenham roadside verge where the 21-year-old Rock ‘n’ Roll singer’s hire car crashed one fatal night in April, 1960.
The cream Consul in which he was traveling had a blow-out at 65 miles an hour before hitting a lamp post throwing Eddie, his fiancee Sharon Sheeley, fellow tour singer Gene Vincent, and their tour manager into the road. They had just finished a very successful 12-week British tour and were on their way back to London ending in ‘The Big Beat Show’ in Bristol.
Although the others recovered from their injuries, Cochran passed away in Bath hospital on Sunday, April 18, from his injuries eight hours after the crash.
Ironically, it might never have happened if they had done some research on the preferred mode of transport – by train.
After realising the first train back to London was not until the early hours of the morning, which would have left little time to pack their baggage for their flight back home to the US, they decided a hire car was the only
option to give them those precious extra few hours at their London hotel…. a decision they would come to regret.
After countless years of making this sad anniversary into a Cochran weekend, his fans decided the rock idol deserved a more lasting and fitting tribute at the spot. In stepped Adam Gittings who set up the Eddie Cochran Memorial Project, via a GoFund page, to raise the necessary funds required to build it. Not only was the target met, “there was a little surplus to help local schools with various musical projects” said Adam, on the day of the unveiling.
When the first memorial was unveiled by Angela in 1998, it was attended by former fiancée Sharon Sheeley, Ed’s nephew Bobby Cochran, and a few Crickets.
Although 20 years have passed, Sunday, September 30, 2018, was chosen as the date to unveil the new memorial. We joined his fans, supporters at the official unveiling, with a fitting musical tribute of a few of Eddie’s songs from one of the rock’n’roll musicians present.
An appreciative crowd later met up at the Old Road Tavern in Chippenham, where Cochran songs featured heavily with the free tribute and DJs Swanny, Fatboy Quiff, Oddsocks, Simon Moon, Colin Park, Tony Toyle, Strops Hop and Crazy Rhythm Juke Box spun tunes from the era.
“Know a spot and like it a lot on a weekend;
Took a road to lookout hill…
No harm done, just a-havin’ some fun – on a weekend;
That was all, we had a big ball – on the weekend.”
Yes, Eddie would have approved what’s going down on Rowden Hill.