The legendary ‘twangy’ guitar sound of New Yorker Duane Eddy has made him one of rock ‘n’ roll most famous instrumentalists. A sound he developed from listening to Bill Justis’s ‘Raunchy’. Independent west coast record producers, Lee Hazlewood and Lester Sill said of Duane “whilst recording sessions in Phoenix, Arizona, we discovered one of the most exciting instrumentalists in discdom today. We are speaking of a handsome six feet of guitar player whose name decorates this album” Together with producer Lee Hazlewood, Duane would go on to write many hits mixed with versions of standards, using the bass strings of his Grestch guitar recorded through an echo chamber. The debut ‘Movin’ ‘n’ Groovin’ was the first of many chart successes on which, over the following six years, he repeated his hit formula to even greater effect. In the UK he notched up fifteen top twenty hits in the glory years between September 1958 and November 1962. Selling millions of records worldwide he was voted number one instrumentalist by famed T.V. Show American Bandstand in its poll of listeners for 1959 and for the following five years. Here in Britain where The Shadows were top dogs in the instrumental groups division. Duane was voted numberone instrumentalist of 1960 and 1961.
Born in Corning, N. Y. on April 26th 1938. His parents were farmers and ranchers and his childhood was spent in many small upstate New York towns. Whilst in his early teens the family moved Tucson and later Coolidge, Arizona where Duane graduated high school. Duane’s father, who played the guitar for his own amusement, had introduced him to the instrument when he was five years old. At the time he showed no real interest until one night in 1955, Duane met Al Casey, whose combo was appearing at an Arizona nightspot. Casey invited Duane to sit in with the band and from that night Duane’s desire to play professional guitar grew. It was in 1958 that his fortunes took a turn towards success. He met independent record producer Lee Hazelwood at KCKY radio station in Coolidge. Hazelwood spotted great potential in Duane and together with his partner Lester Sill, Hazelwood groomed Duane until he was ready to record. From that first session in Phoenix came Duane’s first release ‘Moovin’ ‘n’ Groovin’ but it took months of playing tapes to all the record companies in Los Angeles and New York before the tapes were brought to Jamie Records in Philadelphia. After meeting with them they signed up Duane to a recording contract with Hazelwood and Sill to a producing deal and released the single to great success paving the way for ‘Rebel - Rouser’. This million seller was followed in quick succession by ‘Ramrod,’ ‘Cannonball,’ ‘The Lonely One,’ ‘Yep!’ ‘Forty Miles Of Bad Road,’ ‘Some Kinda Earthquake,’ ‘Bonnie Come Back,’ ‘Shazam’ and later by his biggest hit ‘Because They’re Young’ a superlative theme music for the film of the same name. Together with Lee Hazelwood they had written nearly every one of his hits and his first year with Jamie, sales exceeded three million! An impressive achievement and the first time in the rock era that an instrumentalist had six top 10 U.S. Chart hits in one year.
By the 1964 the hits had all but dried up with the dawn of The Beatles invasion and for many years his sound was out of fashion. Eddy travelled the revival circuit always finding a loyal U.K. audience, in 1975 Tony Macauley wrote ‘Play Me Like You Play The Guitar’ for him giving him his fist top ten record for over a decade. He also had a return to the charts in the mid eighties playing with Art Of Noise with his song ‘Peter Gunn’.