Personalities | Duane Eddy | The Rebel Rouser | Guitar Heroes

Rock’n’roll guitarist Duane Eddy was born in Corning, New York in 1938. His interest in the guitar began when he was five, inspired by singing film-cowboy Gene Autry. In 1951, the family moved to Arizona.

While playing guitar in a country duo, Duane met songwriter, producer and disc jockey Lee Hazelwood. The pair embarked on a writing and production partnership, pioneering the rock’n’roll instrumental. ‘Movin’ ‘N’ Groovin’’ was a minor hit for Eddy in 1958. It was followed by the Top 10 success of ‘Rebel Rouser’, the first of a string of similar hits.

Eddy achieved his unique twangy guitar sound by bending the bass strings and using a combination of echo chamber and tremolo arm. The twang evoked the sound of hot-rod engines revving up and had echoes of the Wild West. Eddy credited Hazelwood with creating the big sound on his records by mixing them specifically for AM radio. His backing band, The Rebels, consisted of top session players, many of whom became members of Phil Spector’s Wrecking Crew in the 1960s. He later introduced female backing vocalists, The Rebelettes, on ‘(Dance With The) Guitar Man’.

Eddy’s biggest hit, the theme to the movie Because They’re Young, brought strings into the repertoire. Eddy was the first rock’n’roll guitarist with a signature model, the Guild DE-400 and deluxe DE-500. For a long time, he was associated with the Gretsch Chet Atkins 6120.

Eddy’s chart success started to dry up in 1962, but he remained an innovative performer, recording many albums, including one of instrumental versions of Bob Dylan songs, and branching out into producing and acting. He returned to the British charts in 1975 with ‘Play Me Like You Play Your Guitar’; in 1986, he recorded a new version of ‘Peter Gunn’ with avant-garde outfit Art Of Noise. The album Duane Eddy (1987) followed. It featured guest appearances by many of the musicians he had influenced, including Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Ry Cooder and John Fogerty. Eddy was inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1994. A further album, Road Trip, was released by Mad Monkey Records in 2011.

Essential Recordings

Solo: Rebel Rouser

Solo: Peter Gunn

Solo: Because They’re Young

Solo: Duane Eddy

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