I’VE long been mildly haunted by a story told to me by my friend Keith, who I enjoy talking to because he knows lots of things I don’t know and, in this case, could not possibly have guessed.
Keith’s story was about Eddie Cochran, the very cool rock star whose oeuvre includes ‘C’mon Everybody’ and ‘Summertime Blues’, which, like the works of, for example, Buddy Holly, Freddie Mercury, Marc Bolan, Amy Winehouse or Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, far outlasted their sadly shortened lives.
Cochran, born in Minnesota, was killed in a car crash near Chippenham, Wiltshire, in 1960, aged 21. He was touring Britain with Gene Vincent (‘Be Bop A Lula’), who was badly injured in the accident, which was the sort of thing to be expected when in-demand performers travelled huge distances in cars without seatbelts or tiny planes, like the one in which the singer Jim Reeves crashed to earth in 1964, instantly upgrading himself from a very fine performer to an irreplaceable country legend.
Eddie Cochran’s death was more of a tragedy than most deaths; he was a precocious talent and we’ll never know what would have happened to him next – a ground-breaking album perhaps, or a paunchy residency in Las Vegas or drugs and decline, although I can’t think that, like his near-contemporary, the original Beatles drummer Pete Best, he would have ever have joined the civil service.
However, and to my shame, I’m more struck by a small incident in the Eddie Cochran story than by wider issues of fame and mortality. My friend Keith, who reads an awful lot, even for a librarian, told me that one of the first people on the scene of the fatal Cochran crash was a cadet policeman called David Harman.
Harman later changed his name to Dave Dee and, with his friends Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich launched a band that might have changed the face of modern pop if they had been a bit more talented. You might remember some of their hits, like ‘Hold Tight’ and ‘The Legend of Xanadu’, if you also remember the Cuba missile crisis and Z-Cars.
I don’t know why I take such an interest in coincidence; the fact that a random car accident in Wiltshire could involve both a major American rock star and, er, Dave Dee has no deeper meaning than that it’s an interesting coincidence. Chasing its significance any further would lead you into the weird and dangerous land of conspiracy theories, which I’m not prepared to enter because it would mean keeping company with David Icke and the President of the United States.
Thank you once again Oliver, until next time…..