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Duane Eddy, Twangy Guitar Legend Of Early Rock, Dies At Age 86


Duane Eddy, a pioneering guitar legend renowned for his distinctive electric sound on classics like “Rebel Rouser” and “Peter Gunn,” which significantly shaped early rock ‘n’ roll and influenced icons such as George Harrison and Bruce Springsteen, has passed away at the age of 86.

His wife, Deed Abbate, confirmed that Eddy succumbed to cancer on Tuesday at Williamson Health Hospital in Franklin, Tennessee.

With his dynamic rhythms, accompanied by background shouts and hand claps, Eddy achieved global acclaim, selling over 100 million records worldwide. He honed a unique sound, emphasizing the rich tones of a guitar’s bass strings over the higher registers, which he believed recorded better on tape.

In recognition of his monumental contributions to music, Eddy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

Teaming up with producer Lee Hazlewood, Eddy pioneered the “Twang” sound in the 1950s, a style later incorporated into Nancy Sinatra’s iconic hit “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.” Experiencing commercial zenith from 1958 to 1963, Eddy later reflected on his hit “Freight Train” as a signal to ease his pace in 1970.

Throughout his illustrious career, Eddy released over 50 albums, occasionally revisiting his earlier works. In the 1980s, he scaled back his professional engagements, preferring to rely on royalties for income.

Reflecting on his hit “Rebel Rouser,” Eddy remarked, “It was a good title and it was the rockest rock ‘n’ roll sound. It was different for the time.”

While Eddy provided the theme music for several films, including “Because They’re Young,” “Pepe,” and “Gidget Goes Hawaiian,” he famously declined an opportunity to compose the James Bond theme due to its lack of emphasis on guitar music.

Transitioning to behind-the-scenes roles in music production during the 1970s, primarily in Los Angeles, Eddy remained active in shaping the industry.

Born in Corning, New York, Eddy grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, where he began playing guitar at the age of 5. His journey to musical stardom commenced in 1958 when he signed with Jamie Records of Philadelphia, swiftly followed by the release of his signature track, “Rebel Rouser.”

Eddy’s career included touring with Dick Clark’s “Caravan of Stars” and appearances in various films, including “Because They’re Young” and “Thunder of Drums.”

After a period of semi-retirement in Lake Tahoe, California, Eddy relocated to Nashville in 1985.

Despite his instrumental prowess, Eddy refrained from singing, considering it one of his noteworthy contributions to the music industry.

Both Paul McCartney and George Harrison held Eddy in high esteem, collaborating with him post-Beatles era. Eddy contributed to McCartney’s “Rockestra Theme,” and Harrison played on Eddy’s eponymous comeback album, both released in 1987.

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