Edward Ray Cochran was born October 3, 1938 in Albert Lea, Minnesota. He was the youngest of five children born to Frank and Alice Cochran. The family was originally from Oklahoma City, but Depression and better chances of jobs had prompted them to move up north to Minnesota. The family was very close. With his father, Eddie discovered a love for hunting and fishing while camping in the Minnesota woods. Eddie's interest in music began while listening to the radio and learning a few chords from his brother, Bob, on the guitar. After he picked up a guitar chord book, his guitar playing improved by leaps and bounds. Eddie had a good ear and could hear a guitar solo on a record and soon duplicate it note by note.
According to Alice Cochran, the family packed up their belongings and traveled west to California in the early part of 1953. They settled in Bell Gardens, a small town just south east of Los Angeles. Being in a strange new environment with no friends, Eddie spent most every spare moment playing his guitar. His mother said he would have played twenty four hours a day if she had let him. Soon after, Eddie met a steel guitar player by the name of Conrad Smith at Bell Gardens Intermediate School. Together with Smith, who would soon be nicknamed "Guybo", and another school chum, Eddie started playing supermarket openings, school assemblies, just about anywhere they could. One particular time in April of 1954, Eddie and Smith played for an assembly at Bell Gardens Elementary School. Guybo played steel guitar and Eddie sang two songs: "Just Married" and "Walkin' the Dog."
Another friendship developed between Eddie and a teenager from Indiana named Ron Wilson. They spent much time together playing guitars and dreaming of going to Nashville and singing on the stage of the "Grand Ole Opry."
Eddie's first paid engagement was at the South Gate Auditorium. He was so nervous at the time that he dropped his guitar pick. Guybo finally traded the steel guitar for a bass. He went on to play on almost every recording session with Eddie.
Later on in 1954, Eddie joined forces with a country singer named Hank Cochran, though the two were not related. They started performing together as the Cochran Brothers. At the time, Hank was doing most of the lead vocals, while Eddie supplied lead guitar. Occasionally, Eddie would lend a little harmony support. In January of 1955, Eddie left school. He was sixteen at the time. Another musician by the name of Warren Flock, met Eddie at a music store in Bell Gardens. It was Flock who drove Eddie and Hank to their first audition in Hollywood. They went to a record company and were directed into a small room. There was one desk and a chair and the walls were covered with Billboard magazines. They were told to go ahead and do their thing. The boys just knocked themselves out while this guy was just sitting there reading a newspaper. This made Warren mad as a hornet. They asked what he thought about their singing and the guy said he didn't know. They were told that there was a possibility that something could happen. They were just getting the run around. Warren could have strangled the guy.
Glen Glenn, who recorded for Era Records, remembers meeting the cochran Brothers while he was working at the "Country Barn Dance" in Baldwin Park, California. This was in the latter part of 1954. Glen worked with a guitar player named Gary Lambert and they played the Barn Dance as regulars every Friday and Saturday night. Eddie and Hank came out one Friday night. They were playing strictly country music at the time. They were not playing anywhere steady and were trying to get on as regulars on the Barn Dance. They were new in the business. They started coming out every Friday night for a while.
Glen recalls the first time he saw the Cochran Brothers perform. He hadn't realized that Eddie didn't sing much at all. Hank carried most of the lead vocals with Eddie backing him on lead guitar. Eddie did sing once in a while on a chorus in some songs. The Cochran Brothers played many dates on the West Coast which led to a regular spot on the "California Hayride" TV show.
Another person who played an important part in Cochran's musical career was Jerry Capehart. They met at the Bell Gardens Music Center. Jerry was there to buy guitar picks while Eddie was picking up strings. Hank and Eddie, along with Capehart, went into the studio and recorded a few tracks. This led to a recording contract with Ekko Records in Hollywood.
In the summer of 1955, their first record was released on the Ekko label. The two sides were strictly country and were entitled "Two Blue Singin' Stars" and "Mr. Fiddle." The top side of the disk was a tribute to Jimmy Rodgers and Hank Williams. Appearing with the Cochran Brothers on these two sides was fiddle man, Harold Hensley, who worked with Cliffie Stone. Hensley remembers getting a phone call for the session. He recalls very little about Eddie and Hank. At the time Harold was going from one session to another. He was sometimes doing three to four of them a day. Hensley is sorry to say that he just can't remember that session with the Cochran Brothers.
"Two Blue Singin' Stars" and it's flip side didn't make it up on the charts. Billboard magazine gave it a good review saying it was a fine tribute record to the two deceased country singers. Following this release, Ekko brought out their next record in November of 1955. The sides were "Guilty Conscience" and "Your Tomorrows Never Come." Like their first release, these also were strictly country. Unfortunately, this record didn't make the grade either.
In the latter part of 1955, the Cochran Brothers hit the road. They toured with Jess Willard, who also recorded for Ekko Records. They played dates up the west coast through Kansas and Arizona. They worked for Farmer Red Ladner at the Dream Bowl in Napa, California in January of 1956. The boys worked all over the San Francisco area. They also appeared on the television show, "Town Hall Party" with Merle Travis, Tex Ritter, the Collins Kids, Johnny Bond and Lefty Frizzell.
In February of 1956, "Walkin' Stick Boogie" and it's flip side, "Rollin," were released on the Cash label. This record featured Jerry Capehart backed by the Cochran Brothers. Eddie and Hank went back in the studio and recorded four more tracks. The session produced "Tired And Sleepy," "Fool's Paradise," "Slow Down" and "Open The Door." The last two tracks didn't see the light of day until much later.
Eddie was now swinging more towards the rock and roll music. It is said that he had seen Elvis Presley on a show in Dallas, Texas. From that moment, this was the musical direction that Eddie would take. On March 10, 1956, the Cochran Brothers appeared on "Hollywood Jubilee" at the El Monte Legion Stadium in El Monte, California. They shared the stage with Don Deal, Smiling Jimmy Merritt, Phyllis Lee and Tom Tall. May of 1956 had Eddie and Hank working with country singer Lefty Frizzell. They appeared in Hawaii and played many dates with him throughout California.
A third release was issued in June of 1956 on the Ekko label, "Tired And Sleepy" and "Fool's Paradise." It was a far departure from their two previous releases. This record had Eddie taking more lead vocal parts. This record leaned more towards rock and roll. Cash Box magazine reported in their review that it had a bright performance on a lid that's gonna keep the boxes hoppin' all day long. The review in Billboard stated that the Cochran Brothers had entered the triplet-backed, Presley styled country gold with some exciting, rhythmic laments. But as fate would have it, these two great sides didn't make it to the charts. Both of these songs were pure rock-a-billy and are considered to be the best tracks made by Hank and Eddie.
It had become apparent that Eddie wanted to do more of the rock and roll and Hank wanted to stick with country music. The Cochran Brothers went their seperate ways. Hank later made a mark for himself in country music as a solo artist and songwriter. Eddie went on to do many recording dates as a session guitarist.
Eddie continued to work closely with Jerry Capehart in the studio making demo records. Capehart took the demos to record labels all over Hollywood. It finally paid off and resulted in Eddie's first solo release for the Crest label. It was a rocker called "Skinny Jim" backed with a slow ballad entitled "Half Loved." The review in Cash Box magazine stated that Eddie Cochran enthusiastically knocks out a driving, country-rock 'n roller in a style similar to that of Little Richard's click "Long Tall Sally."
Soon after, Eddie appeared in the motion picture classic, "The Girl Can't Help It." He performed one of his best rockers in the film, a great song called "Twenty Flight Rock." Eddie went on to win a recording contract with Liberty Records.
Posted September 26, 2001
I've been compiling Eddie Cochran's session man discography for years. During the years I've received help from many other Cochran fans. This is still a draft version and I know that someone out there has some additional information.
This listing contains Eddie Cochran's all known session work, there have been rumours for many years that Eddie is playing on some 45s. I have tried to include all of those records and if I have the record I've also included my comment. It would be nice to have the original session files or someone who was on that particular session could confirm or deny Eddie's presence. Remember, that this is just my humble opinion and it's based on aural evidence and research work.
Eddie played with many artists. Record collectors and fans are strange people, we try to find every record by those artists or sometimes 45s on same labels that could have been recorded at the same session. This is the reason why I have included other recordings by artists who have some kind of connection to Eddie.
Here's the link. I will update this page whenever I get more information.
Maybe someday I have time to add all scans of the record labels. Let me know what you think and if you have any additions, corrections, questions, etc.
REMEMBER EDDIE COCHRAN
EDDIE COCHRAN Fan Club of Denmark, Jorgen Poulsen, Ronnebaervej 10, Mejdal, DK-7500 Holstebro, Denmark. Tel. +45-97-40-37-07. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Eddie Cochran's school. Page opens with him and he is featured in the alumni section.
The Eddie Cochran On-Line Songbook
The Eddie Cochran Shrine Off site
Play Tic Tac Toe with Gene & Eddie