Eddie Cochran, Roy Orbison, and Gene Pitney; were you smitten by these handsome singing stars from the other side of the pond back in the day?
Eddie Cochran’s career took off in 1956 when he sang “Twenty Flight Rock” in the film The Girl Can’t Help It. His good looks, teen-rebel attitude and skill as a musician and songwriter as well as a performer soon led to him being referred to as “James Dean with a guitar”. He quickly won the adoration of fans both in the US and the UK, and many in the Spring Chicken Community remember the excitement of seeing him perform live as he joined Gene Vincent on a UK tour in 1960. Marty Wilde was one of Britain’s young rock ’n’ roll stars on the tour and he recalls their first meeting:
“The first thing I noticed about Eddie was his complexion. We British lads had acne, and Eddie walked in with the most beautiful hair and the most beautiful skin – his skin was a light brown, a beautiful colour with all that California sunshine, and I thought, ‘You lucky devil.'”
Tragically, as Eddie was travelling to the airport at the end of the tour in April, he was killed when the taxi crashed. He was just 21 when he died, but he left a musical legacy behind: “Summertime Blues”, “C’mon Everybody”, “Somethin’ Else” … which hit is your favourite?
Known as “the Caruso of Rock” and “the Big O”, Roy Orbison created an air of mystery on stage with his jet-black hair, black clothing and dark sunglasses. Unlike other rock ’n’ rollers at the time, he sang standing motionless, and his fans didn’t scream over his songs, they listened to every word.
“I went to see him in 1965 or ’66 at The Liverpool Empire. He was fantastic. When he sang “Crying”, you could hear a pin drop.”
I saw the Big O in Leeds in 1962. He took 8 curtain calls. Fantastic!
Interestingly, it was a popular belief back in the day that Roy wore dark glasses because he was blind. In fact, his “shaded” look was simply the result of having left his regular glasses on an aeroplane, forcing him to switch to his prescription sunglasses instead!
Gene Pitney never had a No.1 single in the UK (until his duet with Marc Almond in 1989) but he had over 20 Top 40 hits, 10 of them making the Top 10. Hits include “Twenty-Four Hours from Tulsa” and “Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart”, but according to Spring Chicken Facebook followers, it was the man as much as the music that won the hearts of his UK fans.
“I recall going to see him at Finsbury Park with my cousin. It was the last show, so at the end he sat on the edge of the stage chatting and asking for requests. He sang every requested song – it was wonderful. We both walked home totally smitten!”
“I was madly in love with Gene Pitney. He had such a wonderful voice – and such kissable lips!”