Guitarist Duane Eddy, known for his twangy style in early rock, has died at age 86

Duane Eddy, an influential guitar legend known for his distinctive electric sound on iconic instrumentals like “Rebel Rouser” and “Peter Gunn,” has passed away at the age of 86. His groundbreaking style of playing, characterized by a reverberating twang, played a significant role in shaping the early days of rock ‘n’ roll. Eddy’s innovative approach to the guitar left a lasting impact on music history, inspiring the likes of George Harrison, Bruce Springsteen, and numerous other musicians.

Eddy passed away on Tuesday due to cancer at the Williamson Health hospital in Franklin, Tennessee, as confirmed by his wife, Deed Abbate.

Eddy’s music was characterized by its raucous rhythms, accompanied by energetic hollers and hand claps. His unique sound captivated audiences worldwide, resulting in the sale of over 100 million records. Eddy’s mastery of the guitar allowed him to create a distinctive sound, driven by the belief that the bass strings produced a superior tone when recorded.

“I had my own unique sound that people could easily identify, and I stayed true to that. I wouldn’t consider myself one of the most technically skilled players out there, but I believe in selling the best,” he revealed during an interview with The Associated Press in 1986. “There are many guitarists who are more proficient than I am. They possess skills that go over my head. However, not all of it resonates with what I want to hear from the guitar.”

Eddy’s unique sound, characterized by its signature “twang,” can be traced back to his very first album, “Have Twangy Guitar Will Travel,” all the way to his 1993 box set, “Twang Thang: The Duane Eddy Anthology.”

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“It may sound like a rather silly name for something that isn’t silly at all,” Eddy shared with the AP back in 1993. “But after 35 years, it has become a sort of sentimental attachment for me, if nothing else.”

In 1994, he earned the prestigious honor of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Eddy and producer Lee Hazlewood collaborated to pioneer the iconic “Twang” sound in the 1950s. This distinctive sound was later incorporated into Hazlewood’s production of Nancy Sinatra’s popular hit “These Boots Are Made for Walkin'” in the 1960s. Eddy experienced significant commercial success from 1958 to 1963. Reflecting on his career in 1993, he revealed that his 1970 hit “Freight Train” served as a reminder for him to take a step back and slow down.

“It was such a hit that you could just sit back and enjoy the music,” he fondly remembered. “Back then, I was really ahead of the curve.”

Eddy has an impressive discography of over 50 albums, including some reissues. However, his output slowed down in the 1980s as he began to rely on his royalties for income. In 1986, he candidly admitted, “I’m living off my royalties.”

According to the AP, he described “Rebel Rouser” as having a great title and being the most rocking rock ‘n’ roll sound. He noted that it was a unique and distinct sound for that era.

Eddy, a talented musician, composed the theme music for various movies such as “Because They’re Young,” “Pepe,” and “Gidget Goes Hawaiian.” Interestingly, he declined the opportunity to create the James Bond theme song due to its lack of guitar music.

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During the 1970s, he was actively involved in music production work, primarily based in Los Angeles.

Eddy was born in Corning, New York, and he spent his childhood in Phoenix, where he developed a passion for playing the guitar at the young age of 5. Growing up in Arizona, he nurtured his dreams of performing on the prestigious Grand Ole Opry stage. In 1958, he had the opportunity to turn his dreams into reality when he signed with Jamie Records of Philadelphia. Shortly after, he released his iconic track “Rebel Rouser.”

Eddy went on tour with Dick Clark’s “Caravan of Stars” and made appearances in movies like “Because They’re Young” and “Thunder of Drums.”

In 1985, after enjoying a semi-retirement in Lake Tahoe, California, he made the decision to relocate to Nashville.

In 1986, Eddy expressed that he did not consider himself a vocalist, stating, “One of my biggest contributions to the music business is not singing.”

Both Paul McCartney and George Harrison were avid fans of Eddy, and they had the opportunity to collaborate with him after their time with The Beatles. In 1987, Eddy played on McCartney’s “Rockestra Theme,” while Harrison contributed to Eddy’s self-titled comeback album. It was a remarkable moment when these musical legends joined forces with the rock and roll icon.

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