Rock legend: British rock 'n' roll legend set to appear at Sheffield book launch

A show which re-wrote musical history at legendary Sheffield venue the Gaumont at the start of the 1960s is being brought back to life next month.

Friday, 19th November 2021, 11:08 am

Vince Eager – the British star that performed on the bill with Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent on what’s now recognised as the country’s first ever rock’n’roll package tour – is the star guest at the launch party for a book that chronicles the show and wider tour like never before.

Eddie Cochran: A Fast Moving Beat Show – The Story of the Final, Fatal UK Tour was launched in lockdown to huge critical acclaim and on Thursday, December 2, it finally gets its launch party.

The tour performed to packed houses in the spring of 1960. It was put together by British promoter Larry Parnes. Beatlemania and the Merseybeat sound might never have happened if it hadn’t been for the punishing schedule of dates.

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Adrian McKenna and John Firminger signing copies of their book about roll n roll star Eddie Cochran, Sheffield, United Kingdom, 30th May 2021. Photo by Glenn Ashley.

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Adrian McKenna, who has written the book with John Firminger, said: “Eddie Cochran music was a catalyst in bringing Paul McCartney and John Lennon together - when they first met in 1957, Paul showed John the chords for Cochran's Twenty Flight Rock, instantly forging their collaborative relationship.

“The Beatles attended the shows at the Liverpool Empire in March 1960 and would soon be sporting black leather outfits, inspired by Cochran and Vincent.

“Eddie Cochran brought Ray Charles' music to Britain. What'd I Say was frequently his show opener and the distinctive riff which he translated from electric piano to guitar is practically the blueprint for the Merseybeat sound of the Sixties.”

Eddie Cochran (right) meets fans at Sheffield Gaumont with Gene Vincent (middle) and Vince Eager (left) who has written the book’s foreword and is special guest at the book launch

Tragically Eddie Cochran, the tour’s brightest star, died at 21 years old in a road traffic accident just hours after the final date of the tour. He was the man behind Summertime Blues and C’mon Everybody and was killed on April 17, 1960 when the taxi carrying him from a show in Bristol crashed en route to the airport in London, where he was to catch a flight back home to the United States.

A raw and exciting rocker with a cocky, rebellious image, Cochran was different from the polished and packaged idols being heavily marketed to American teenagers in the years between the rise of Elvis Presley and the arrival of the Beatles.

And while he may have faded from popular memory in the years since his tragic and early death, his biggest hits have not. The seismic impact he made in those few short weeks provided a blueprint for everything that followed in the sixties.

Adrian McKenna added: “We thought an in-depth look at that tour was something that was missing from the musical history books.”

Poster for next month’s event with Vince Eager in Dronfield

The launch event for Eddie Cochran: A Fast Moving Beat Show – The Story of the Final, Fatal UK Tour is set to be held at Hilltop Sports and Social Club, Dronfield. The event includes live band Something Else performing rock ’n’ roll classics, Vince Eager and other guests.

Admission is £4 guests/ £3 club members. Tables can be reserved by calling 0777 933 0825.