The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Summertime Blues"

Friday, August 3: 1:14 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

A lot of rock and roll, and especially Sun-label rockabilly, has liquor on its breath. Eddie Cochran – born in Minnesota, a California transplant at age 12 and a teenager until almost the end of the 1950s – never got ruder than a soda-pop belch, musically speaking. His recordings convey youthful good times without the dark undertow of his southern contemporaries. "Summertime Blues" was a B-side, but not for long. Written by Cochran and manager Jerry Capeheart, it's a concise masterpiece: a protest song without rancor, pointedly funny and propulsive. Cochran's teenage frustration will never be out of date. Ten years after being the biggest hit of a tragically short career, "Summertime Blues" survived a lysergic distortion by Blue Cheer to enter the Top 20 all over again. Two years after that, in 1970, the Who was almost as successful with their version, a longtime concert favorite. Eddie Cochran released only one album during his lifetime, which was abruptly cut short when the taxi in which he was a passenger crashed en route to a London airport at the end of a British tour. Also injured in the accident were rocker Gene Vincent and Cochran’s fiancée, songwriter Shari Sheeley. The single Cochran released just before his death, eerily enough, was entitled “Three Steps to Heaven.”

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