It’s a short lifetime ago, but poignantly for Eddie Cochran, he was 21 when he died in a car smash in Chippenham – 61 years ago.

The American rock’n’roll star died during the afternoon of Easter Sunday April 17, 1960.

Eddie and Gene Vincent had been touring the UK.

His own songs Summertime Blues and C’mon Everybody, had been huge hits and are regarded as classics today.

After the end of a long tour on Saturday April 16 a Ford Consul driven by George Martin, with Eddie, Gene, Sharon and tour-manager Pat Thompkins, set off for London.

They went down the old A4 through Bath, taking a short cut on the outskirts of Chippenham.

Thompkins later recalled: “Well, he saw the A4 and turned right, going the wrong way. When he saw the milestone, he realized he was going the wrong way and hit the brakes.”

The car sped out of Chippenham trying to get back on the right route, Martin lost control on the bend at Rowden Hill and spun backwards into a concrete lamp post.

The impact sent Eddie up into the roof and forced the rear door open, throwing him on to the road. Martin and Thompkins were able to walk away. Gene had broken his collarbone, and fortunately for Sharon, she only suffered shock and bruising.

However, the injuries to Eddie would prove fatal.

The noise had brought local residents onto the scene. Dave Chivers told the Wiltshire Times: “I was getting into bed when I heard a whistling outside, followed by a series of bumps and smashes.

“My first reaction was that it was a plane crash. I went outside and saw the wrecked car, several people lying about, a large guitar and scattered photographs, which had come from the open boot. I telephoned for an ambulance from the kiosk nearby.”

Eddie had suffered severe brain damage. He never regained consciousness.

Today, there is still a reminder of the tragedy – a plaque on the grass verge.

It was erected by fans and unveiled at one of Chippenham’s Eddie Cochran Weekender events by Sharon Sheeley, on what was her first visit since that fateful night.