After the final show at Bristol Hippodrome on Saturday, April 16, 1960, we had to leave for Heathrow Airport. Eddie Cochran and Sharon Sheeley bound for California and Gene Vincent planned to perform in France.
The flight back home left at one o’clock in the afternoon of Sunday the 17th and the initial idea was to take a train to London but soon gave up knowing that there was no service until dawn.
Johnny Gentle, who had replaced Dean Webb on the line that night, could not make a hole in his own car as it was full. So there was no choice but to take a taxi and it came in the form of Ford Consul led by a young man named George Martin.
After loading the trunk, Cochran, Vincent, Sheeley and road manager Pat Thompkins would board the car around 11pm, bound for the capital.
It seems that he was going at great speed and it is said that he had taken a wrong exit, that instead of heading to London he was driving back to Bristol. When rectifying by taking a curve, he stepped on the brake but the car skidded out of control and ended up colliding with a lamppost on the outskirts of Chippenham, and everything would change from one second to the next.
The impact threw Eddie against the roof and caused the rear doors to open, and he was thrown headfirst into the asphalt. His wounds were deadly.
Martin and Thompkins were unharmed compared to fractures and wounds of varying consideration from other occupants.
An ambulance quickly moved them to St. Martin’s Hospital in Bath, but Eddie would die after four o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday, April 17, as a result of the severe brain damage. He was only 21 years old and a very promising future.
After the trial of George Martin, he was fined 50 pounds and his license was withdrawn for 15 years, but he returned to the road earlier. However, he never overcame the stigma of knowing that it was the man who drove the car that killed Eddie Cochran.
A commemorative plaque appears at the exact point of the accident in Rowden Hill, Chippenham, which is usually visited by fans from all over … GONE BUT THE (CHERISED) MEMORIES LINGER ON!