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Remembering Duane Eddy: The Man Who Gave Twang to Rock ‘n’ Roll

today3 May 2024


Remembering Duane Eddy: The Man Who Gave Twang to Rock ‘n’ Roll

In the realm of rock ‘n’ roll, there are few figures as iconic and influential as Duane Eddy. With his unmistakable “Twang” sound, he not only carved a niche for himself but also inspired generations of musicians worldwide. On April 30th, 2024, the music world mourned the loss of this legendary guitarist at the age of 86. However, Duane Eddy’s legacy, both in his music and his impact on the industry, continues to resonate profoundly.

Early Years

Born on April 26, 1938, in Corning, N.Y., Eddy’s journey with music began at an early age. Introduced to the guitar at five and graduating to the lap steel at nine, he showed promise from the outset. Influenced by the likes of Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Les Paul, Chet Atkins, and Merle Travis, his musical palette was rich and varied. However, it was his distinctive “twangy” style that would set him apart and define his career.

At the age of 13, Eddy’s family relocated to Arizona, a move that would prove pivotal in his musical journey. Teaming up with friend Jimmy Delbridge, they formed the duo Jimmy and Duane, catching the attention of local DJ and producer Lee Hazlewood. It was under Hazlewood’s guidance that Eddy released his first solo single, “Movin’ n’ Groovin’,” in November 1957. This marked the beginning of a remarkable career that would leave an indelible mark on the music landscape.

The Hits

Eddy’s breakthrough came with the electrifying “Rebel Rouser” in 1958, a track that would catapult him to stardom. Its infectious energy and dynamic guitar work captured the imagination of listeners, earning Eddy his rightful place as the first standalone rock ‘n’ roll guitar star. From there, a string of hits followed, including the iconic theme to the TV series “Peter Gunn,” showcasing Eddy’s unparalleled skill and innovation on the guitar.

What set Eddy apart was not just his technical prowess but also his ability to evoke emotion and atmosphere through his music. His “twangy” style, characterized by economical, melody-based picking on the low strings of his guitar, resonated with audiences worldwide. It wasn’t long before his influence spread beyond the borders of the United States, reaching the shores of Britain, and inspiring the likes of George Harrison and Hank Marvin.

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Eddy’s Influence

The impact of Duane Eddy’s music extended far beyond the charts. His sound became synonymous with a certain rugged masculinity, a blend of country and rock ‘n’ roll that spoke to the heart of America’s musical identity. As Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, aptly put it, “The Duane Eddy sound will forever be stitched into the fabric of country and rock & roll.”

Despite the shifting tides of the music industry, Eddy’s music remained relevant, finding new audiences through film and television. His classic tracks featured in over 30 films and TV shows, a testament to their enduring appeal. Even as tastes changed with the British Invasion of the mid-1960s, Eddy’s legacy endured, his influence reverberating through the work of artists like Bruce Springsteen.

The Later Years

In the twilight of his career, Eddy continued to innovate and collaborate, embracing new sounds and styles while staying true to his roots. His resurgence in the late 1980s with the remake of “Peter Gunn” alongside Art of Noise demonstrated his enduring relevance and ability to adapt to changing musical landscapes. Collaborations with luminaries like Paul McCartney, Jeff Lynne, and Ry Cooder further underscored his status as a revered figure in the industry.

Beyond his musical contributions, Eddy’s humility and kindness endeared him to fans and peers alike. Surrounded by his devoted wife Deed and his family, he leaves behind a legacy that will continue to inspire and resonate for years to come. As we bid farewell to this titan of rock ‘n’ roll, let us remember Duane Eddy not only for his music but also for the indelible mark he left on the world of music and beyond. Rest in peace, Duane Eddy, and thank you for the gift of your music.

Written by: ash