Throughout the '80s, into the '90s, and even today, THE CULT's guitarist Billy Duffy, has made an impact on alternative rock with his use of memorable melodic lines, swirling effects and howling feedback.
He grew up in Manchester, where he began playing guitar at the age of fourteen. Duffy got his start playing in different punk line-ups in the late 1970s, but these earlier years were more notable for his introducing Johnny Marr (The Smiths) to the guitar and encouraging Morrissey to make his singing debut with Duffy in The Nosebleeds.
When the initial punk rock movement (led by the Sex Pistols) died out, Duffy eventually settled as guitarist for the moodier and more arty Theatre of Hate. He eventually met Ian Astbury (the front man for gothic rock band Southern Death Cult) who was impressed with Duffy's playing and abandoned Southern Death Cult to start a new band with him. Together, they exploited the Southern Death Cult's success by calling themselves Death Cult. After initial fanfare and a couple of singles, Duffy, following a trip to New York, convinced Astbury to shorten the band's name to The Cult in 1984.
As early as The Cult's debut single "Spiritwalker", Duffy began establishing a distinctive sound with an offbeat choice of guitar, a late 1950's Gretsch White Falcon. His fusion of punk and rock riffs, intricately connected, inhabited a middle ground between U2's The Edge and Jimi Hendrix. Duffy's sound (unique, with a dark, mystic vibe) perfectly complemented Astbury's cultural eccentricity. With songs like "She Sells Sanctuary", "The Phoenix", and "Nirvana" (from their second album, 1985's critically acclaimed "Love"), Duffy would ultimately be guaranteed a slot as one of alternative rock's original guitarists.