Duane Eddy

From New World Encyclopedia

Duane Eddy (born April 26, 1938) is a Grammy Award-winning American early rock and roll guitarist famous for his "twangy guitar" style. He produced a streak of hit singles in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including "Rebel Rouser," "Forty Miles of Bad Road," "Because They're Young," and "The Lonely One."

Eddy's 1959 debut album, Have Twangy Guitar Will Travel, stayed on the charts for a record 82 weeks. He recorded more than 25 albums with wide-ranging themes, including his 1986 collaboration with Art of Noise that featured a reworking of his 1960 hit, "Peter Gunn." The single became top-ten hit worldwide and won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental. His playing influenced a generation of musicians, including George Harrison, Dave Davies (of the The Kinks), Bruce Springsteen, and Mark Knopfler.

Eddy was the first rock-and-roll guitarist to have a signature model guitar. In 2004, he received the Guitar Player Magazine "Legend Award." Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, he is often acclaimed as the most successful rock-and-roll instrumentalist of all time.


Born in Corning, New York in 1938, Eddy began playing guitar at age five, emulating his cowboy hero, Gene Autry. His family moved west to Arizona in 1951. In early 1954, Eddy met local disc jockey Lee Hazlewood in the town of Coolidge. Hazlewood would become his longtime partner, co-writer, and producer. Together, they created a successful formula based upon Eddy's unique style and approach to the guitar and Hazelwood's experimental vision with sound in the recording studio.

Elements of country, blues, jazz, and gospel infused Eddy's instrumentals, which had memorable musical "hooks" and evocative titles like "Rebel Rouser," "Forty Miles of Bad Road," "Cannonball," "The Lonely One," "Shazam," and "Some Kind-a Earthquake." The latter has the distinction of being the shortest song to ever break into the Top 40, at 1 minute, 17 seconds. Eddy's records were often punctuated with rebel yells and saxophone breaks. The worldwide popularity of these records, beginning with Moovin' and Groovin’ in 1958, open the doors for later rock-and-roll instrumental music.

Eddy's band, The Rebels, featured musicians who would later take their place among the world's best-known session players. Sax players Steve Douglas and Jim Horn, pianist Larry Knechtel, and guitarist Al Casey have been heard on hundreds of hit records, becoming members of the famous "Wrecking Crew" of the Phil Spector production studio in the 1960s and touring with an elite group of artists through the years.

On January 9, 1959, Eddy’s debut album, Have Twangy Guitar Will Travel, was released, reaching number five and remaining on the album charts for an unprecedented 82 weeks. In 1960, the UK's "New Musical Express" voted him "World's Number One Musical Personality," ousting Elvis Presley from his long-held position. That same year, he appeared in and recorded the theme for the movie Because They're Young. The song became Eddy's biggest success as a single, peaking at number four.

Eddy produced more than 25 albums during his career, spanning a broad range of musical themes and often breaking new ground. At the height of the rock-and-roll era, he recorded an album of completely acoustic music, Songs Of Our Heritage. He also created orchestral albums, Big Band sounds from the 1940s, and an album of songs written by Bob Dylan.

During the 1960s, Eddy launched an acting career, appearing in the films A Thunder of Drums, The Wild Westerners, Kona Coast, The Savage Seven, and two appearances on the American television series Have Gun—Will Travel. In the 1970s he produced album projects for Phil Everly and Waylon Jennings. In 1975, a collaboration with hit songwriter Tony Macaulay and former member of the The Seekers Keith Potger led to a worldwide top-ten record, "Play Me Like You Play Your Guitar." The Eddy-produced single, "You Are My Sunshine," featuring Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, hit the country charts in 1977.

In 1983, Eddy toured with a group of well-known veteran musicians, playing small, intimate clubs. Band members included Don Randi on keyboards, Hal Blaine on drums, Steve Douglas on sax, and Ry Cooder on guitar. In 1986, Eddy recorded with Art of Noise, a collaboration that brought a contemporary edge to his 1960 tune, "Peter Gunn." The song was a top-ten hit around the world, ranking number one on Rolling Stone magazine's dance chart for six weeks that summer. "Peter Gunn" won the Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental of 1986. It also gave Eddy the distinction of being the only instrumentalist to have had top-ten hit singles in four different decades in Great Britain.

The following year, a new album, the self-titled Duane Eddy, was released on Capitol. A tribute to his influence and inspiration to so many young players, tracks were produced by such figures as Paul McCartney, Jeff Lynne, Ry Cooder, and Art of Noise. Guest artists and musicians included John Fogerty, George Harrison, McCartney, Cooder, James Burton, David Lindley, Steve Cropper, and original Rebels, Larry Knechtel and Jim Horn.

Hollywood's Rockwalk

In the spring of 1994, Eddy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, alongside fellow artists Elton John, Rod Stewart, John Lennon, Bob Marley and The Grateful Dead. Later that year, film soundtracks introduced Eddy's music to millions as they watched Forrest Gump being chased by a pickup truck full of rednecks as he runs across a football field to the sound of "Rebel Rouser." Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers used "The Trembler," a track written by Eddy and Ravi Shankar, to help create a spine-chilling scene set against a violent thunderstorm in the desert.

In 1996, Eddy joined Academy Award winning composer Hans Zimmer on the soundtrack of Broken Arrow, starring John Travolta. Eddy’s guitar sound was first choice to be the “voice” for the villain’s theme. Zimmer later said, "I always thought that Duane's style was being ripped off by the spaghetti westerns. This time I got the real thing." The same theme was also used as a recurring theme in Wes Craven's hit film, Scream 2 (1997).

In spring, 1997, Eddy was inducted into the Rockwalk on Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard, placing his handprints and signature into the cement along with his friends Chet Atkins, Scotty Moore, and James Burton. In 2004 he was presented with the Guitar Player Magazine "Legend Award." Eddy was the second recipient of the award, the first having been presented to Eddy's own guitar hero, Les Paul.


The Gretsch model 6120 is associated with Eddy.
Duane Eddy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994

Eddy popularized the hard-driving, twangy sound that became part of the musical culture of rock-and-roll guitar. Combining strong, dramatic, single-note melodies, bending the low strings, and a combination of echo, vibrato bar, and tremolo effects, he produced a signature sound that would be featured on an unprecedented string of 34 chart singles, 15 of which made the top 40, with sales of over 100 million worldwide.

His playing also influenced generations of new musicians. Among those who acknowledge his influence are The Ventures, George Harrison, Dave Davies (The Kinks), Hank Marvin (The Shadows), Ry Cooder, John Entwistle (The Who), Bruce Springsteen, and Mark Knopfler. Eddy was also the first rock-and-roll guitarist to have a signature model guitar. In 1960, Guild Guitars introduced the Duane Eddy Models DE-400 and the deluxe DE-500. A limited edition of the DE-500 model was reissued briefly in 1983 to mark Eddy's twenty-fifth anniversary in the recording industry. The Gretsch "Chet Atkins 6120" model has long been associated with Eddy. In 1997, Gretsch Guitars started production of the Duane Eddy Signature Model, DE-6120. In 2004, The Gibson Custom Art and Historic Division introduced the new Duane Eddy Signature Gibson guitar.


  • Number One World Musical Personality in the NME Poll (UK) 1960
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Member 1994
  • Grammy Winner Best Rock Instrumental Peter Gunn 1986
  • Grammy Nomination Best Country Instrumental (Doc Watson album) 1992
  • Rockwalk Induction 1997
  • Presented with "Chetty" award by Chet Atkins 2000
  • Guitar Player Magazine Legend Award 2004


U.S. singles

Year Single Chart position
1958 "Movin' N' Groovin" 72
"Rebel Rouser" 6
"Ramrod" 27
"Cannonball" 15
1959 "The Lonely One" 23
"Yep!" 30
"Forty Miles Of Bad Road" 9
"The Quiet Three" 46
"Some Kind-A Earthquake" 37
"First Love, First Tears" 59
1960 "Bonnie Came Back" 26
"Shazam!" 45
"Because They're Young" 4
"Kommotion" 78
"Peter Gunn" 27
1961 "Pepe" 18
"Theme From Dixie" 39
"Ring Of Fire" 84
"Drivin' Home" 87
"My Blue Heaven" 50
1962 "Deep In The Heart Of Texas" 78
"The Ballad Of Paladin" 33
"Dance With The Guitar Man" 12
1963 "Boss Guitar" 28
"Lonely Boy, Lonely Guitar" 82
"Your Baby's Gone Surfin" '93
1964 "The Son Of Rebel Rouser" 97
1977 "You Are My Sunshine" 50
1986 "Peter Gunn" (with The Art of Noise) 50


  • Have "Twangy" Guitar—Will Travel (1958)
  • The "Twangs" the "Thang" (1959)
  • Songs of Our Heritage (1960)
  • $1,000,000.00 Worth of Twang (1960)
  • Girls! Girls! Girls! (1961)
  • Twistin' With Duane Eddy (1962)
  • Twangy Guitar - Silky Strings (1962)
  • Surfin' (1963)
  • Duane Eddy & The Rebels—In Person (1963)
  • Twangin' The Golden Hits (1965)
  • Duane Eddy (1987)

Film appearances

  • Because They're Young (1960)
  • A Thunder of Drums (1961)
  • The Wild Westerners (1962)
  • The Savage Seven (1968)
  • Kona Coast (1968)

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Escott, Colin. All Roots Lead to Rock: Legends of Early Rock 'n' Roll. New York, NY: Schirmer Books, 1999. ISBN 9780028648668
  • Freeth, Nick, and Douse, Cliff. Great Guitarists. San Diego, CA: Thunder Bay Press, 2001. ISBN 9781571455741
  • Kienzle, Richard. Great Guitarists. New York, NY: Facts on File, 1985. ISBN 9780816010295

External links

All links retrieved January 30, 2024.


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