Duane Eddy (born April 26, 1938) is a Grammy Award-winning American guitarist. In the late 1950s and early 1960s he had a string of hit records, produced by Lee Hazlewood, which were noted for their characteristically “twangy” sound, including “Rebel Rouser”, “Peter Gunn”, and “Because They’re Young”. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
More photos of Duane Eddy at VLV15
If Duane Eddy‘s instrumental hits from the late ’50s can sound unduly basic and repetitive (especially when taken all at once), he was vastly influential. Perhaps the most successful instrumental rocker of his time, he may have also been the man most responsible (along with Chuck Berry) for popularizing the electric rock guitar. His distinctively low, twangy riffs could be heard on no less than 15 Top 40 hits between 1958 and 1963. He was also one of the first rock stars to successfully crack the LP market.
That low, twangy sound was devised in collaboration with producer Lee Hazlewood
, an Arizona disc jockey whom Eddy
had met while hanging out at a radio station as a teenager. By the late ’50s,Hazlewood had branched out into production. Before Duane began recording, his principal influence had been Chet Atkins
, but at Hazlewood
‘s suggestion, he started concentrating on guitar lines at the lower end of the strings. His opening riff of his debut single, “Movin’ and Groovin’,” would be lifted for the Beach Boys
five years later to open “Surfin’ U.S.A.” It was the next 45, “Rebel Rouser,” that would really break up him as a national star, reaching the Top Ten in 1958. Opening with a down-and-dirty, heavily echoed guitar riff, it remains the tune with which he’s most often identified.
Eddy’s phenomenally successful run of hits over the next few years was to some extent a variation on the “Rebel Rouser” theme. With cowboy whoops from the backup band helping drive things along, they weren’t nearly as innovative as work of Link Wray
during the same era, but they were much more popular. The singles — “Peter Gunn,” “Cannonball,” “Shazam,” and “Forty Miles of Bad Road” were probably the best — also did their part to help keep the raunchy spirit of rock & roll alive, during a time in which it was in danger of being watered down. Much of that raunch was not solely due to Eddy himself, but to the honking sax solos of Steve Douglas
, who would go on to become one of the top session players in the industry. Duane would have his biggest hit, however, in 1960, when he sweetened the twang with strings for the movie theme “Because They’re Young.