Duane Eddy

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Musician

Duane Eddy, the most successful and influential instrumentalist in Rock and Roll history, is the man who added a new term to the American music dictionary-Twang. In the early days of Rock and Roll, the notion of the lead guitarist as the charismatic figure in the spotlight was completely novel. Duane Eddy moved the guitar player front and center.

Born in Corning, New York, in 1938, he began playing at age five, emulating his cowboy hero, Gene Autry. The family moved to Coolidge, Arizona, in the fifties, where his father was manager of the Safeway store. Duane and his sister attended Coolidge High School. He also met his longtime partner, co-writer and producer, Lee Hazlewood, in Coolidge, who was a disc jockey at KCKY, a local radio station. Duane purchased his first guitar at H&H Hardware, Coolidge, Arizona. Duane performed locally, including KCKY radio station, before relocating to Phoenix.

Elements of country, blues, jazz and gospel infused his instrumentals. They had evocative titles like, Rebel Rouser, Forty Miles of Bad Road, Cannonball, The Lonely One, Shazam, and Some Kinda Earthquake. They were filled with rebel yells and brilliant sax breaks. The worldwide popularity of these records, beginning with Moovin and Groovin in 1958, broke open the doors for Rock and Roll instrumental music. The following decade Duane produced over 25 albums spanning a broad range of themes. The seventies were equally busy. He produced album projects for Phil Everly and Waylon Jennings. A collaboration with hit songwriter Tony Macaulay led to a worldwide top ten record, Play Me Like You Play Your Guitar. The single, You Are My Sunshine, featuring Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, hit the country charts in 1977.

In 1986, Duane recorded with the British avant garde group Art of Noise, a collaboration that brought a new twist to his 1960 best seller, Peter Gunn, which then won The Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental of 1986.The following year, a new album, the self-titled Duane Eddy, was released on Capitol. As a tribute to his influence and inspiration, a number of amazing artists came along to be a part of this project. Tracks were produced by Paul McCartney, Jeff Lynne, Ry Cooder, Art of Noise, and Duane. The “band” included John Fogerty, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ry Cooder, James Burton, David Lindley, Steve Cropper, and original Rebels, Larry Knechtel and Jim Horn.

In the spring of 1994, Duane Eddy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with Elton John, Rod Steward, John Lennon, Bob Marley, and The Grateful Dead. Later that year, film soundtracks introduced Duane Eddy’s music to millions as they watched Forrest Gump being chased by a pickup truck full of rednecks and running into his football career to the sound of Rebel Rouser. Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers used The Trembler, a track written by Duane and Ravi Shankar. In 1996, Duane worked on the soundtrack of the film Broken Arrow, starring John Travolta. This dark, moody piece was used again in Scream 2.

In June, 2008, Duane was invited to appear at the Gala Opening Night to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rock and Roll at the Hollywood Bowl. In 1958, Duane was the first Rock and Roll artist to step out onto the stage. In his 2008 introduction, Rainn Wilson said of Duane, “Tonight, he returns, to perform Rebel Rouser, the song that shook the place fifty years ago. A groundbreaker who paved the way for so many great rockers to give The Hollywood Bowl a whole new spin.”

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