One of the earliest guitar heroes, Duane Eddy put the twang in rock and roll.
Twang is a reverberating, bass-heavy guitar sound boasted by primitive
studio wizardry. Concocted by Eddy and producer Lee Hazlewood in 1957,
twang came to represent the sound of revved-up hot rods and an echo of
the Wild West on the frontier of rock and roll. Eddy obtained his trademark
sound by picking on the low strings of a Chet Atkins-model Gretsch 6120
hollowbody guitar, turning up the tremolo and running the signal through
an echo chamber. Behind the mighty sound of twang, Eddy became the most
successful instrumentalist in rock history, charting fifteen Top Forty
singles in the late Fifties and early Sixties. He has sold more than
100 million records worldwide. No less an authority than John Fogerty
has declared, Duane Eddy was the front guy, the first rock and roll
Duane Eddy's instrumental hits from the late '50s can unduly basic
and repetitive, but he was vastly
influential. Perhaps the most successful instrumental rocker of his time,
he may have also been one of the most responsible
for popularizing the electric rock guitar. His distinctively low,
twangy riffs could be heard on no less than 15 Top Forty hits between
1958 and 1963. He was also one of the first rock stars to successfully
crack the LP market.
The sound of
Duane Eddy's guitar has reverberated through the decades.
George Harrison and Paul McCartney were big fans of Eddy's and, he recorded
with both of them in later years. Eddy was recruited to play on McCartney's
Rockestra Theme in 1987, and Harrison played on Eddy's self-titled
comeback album from 1987, which also featured James Burton, Ry Cooder,
Steve Cropper (of Booker T. & the M.G..s),
John Fogerty and David Lindley.
Eddy's mid-Eighties comeback began some club dates in L.A. and brief
West Coast tour with Ry Cooder in 1983. In 1986, the British avant-garde
instrumental outfit Art of Noise recruited Eddy to perform on a remake
of Peter Gunn, which became a Top Ten hit in Britain
Gretsch Guitars in Georgia has reissued the exact guitar that Duane
had made to his specifications, the Duane Eddy Signature Model 6120
on which the twang had first been heard when Duane was starting out.
Duane is regarded by many as the top rock-and-roll instrumentalist
of all time.
Duane Eddy took his place in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1994.
He still tours with oldies shows.
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