Tag Archives: Duane Eddy

Q&A with Duane Eddy


Fred Gretsch’s company website, Gretsch.com, recently posted a wonderful Q&A with King of Twang Duane Eddy.

In the piece, Eddy chats with interviewer Ron Denny, covering a variety of topics including his longtime career, influence on other artists, working with George Harrison, and how he feels about his Gretsch guitars.

Here’s a quick excerpt:

What circumstances led to you and George Harrison crossing paths and working together in the ’80s?

In 1986, the Art of Noise decided to do a remake of “Peter Gunn” which had been a hit for me back in 1959. So, I flew over to England with my guitar and opened up the guitar on “Peter Gunn” for the Art of Noise and it was a worldwide hit. As a result of that, I went to a few shows with them, one of which was the Montreux Rock Festival in Switzerland. Jeff Lynne of the Electric Light Orchestra and I met backstage and Jeff said, “I know after this hit you’ll be doing an album and I’d love to be a part of it, whatever you’d like me to do. Write, play, produce, anything I can do to help. I’d love to do a few tracks with you.” And I said, ”Okay, I’ll keep that in mind,” and took his number.

Sure enough, later that year I got an album deal with Capital Records. So I did a couple tracks with the Art of Noise, one with Ry Cooder, and then I called Jeff Lynne and said, “Well you were right, I got the album deal. Do you still want to work on some things?” He says, “I would love to Duane, but I’m working with George Harrison at the moment on his new album.” He says, “I’m just all wrapped up in that and I wouldn’t be able to.” I said, “Fine, no problem.”

I hung up and forgot about it. Twenty minutes later the phone rings and he says, “It’s Jeff. Well, I told George we were talking and I told him you just called me and asked me to help with the album, and George wants to put his album on hold and do yours, do a couple of tracks with you.” I said, “Great, we’ll be over next week.”

This was on your 1987 Duane Eddy album?

Yes. My wife Deed and I, and my ’57 Gretsch, flew over and went to George’s house and recorded three tracks with George. One of them was a song that Ravi Shankar had hummed to him. It had a flat note at the end and George said, “That’s the greatest note I ever heard.”  I said, “Yeah, that’s very interesting.” So I took that line and finished writing that part, then put in a middle part which was not weird, but rather ordinary and common to offset that weird part, and it became “The Trembler.” It was used in Natural Born Killers in a real dark scene with tumbleweeds blowing and rattlesnakes and a dust storm and all that. It was very effective.

You’re so strongly identified with your ’57 6120. How do you feel when you see another Gretsch?

Basically I just love them and it’s like coming home. It’s like seeing a family member. I don’t care where it is, if it’s in a pawnshop or a guy’s house. I’m immediately drawn to it, especially if it’s a hollow body. And, when I see a 6120, I wonder if it’s as good as my ’57, if it has that same slim neck.

Read the full piece here, and be sure to also check out a journal entry by Fred Gretsch about his relationship with Eddy here.

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Country Music Hall of Fame Salutes Duane Eddy


As part of its Nashville Cats series and to also coincide with the American Sound and Beauty: Guitars from the Bachman-Gretsch Collection exhibition, the Country Music Hall of Fame recently paid tribute to legendary Gretsch artist Duane Eddy with a special event at its museum.

With his 1958 hit “Rebel Rouser,” Eddy became the first solo instrumental hero of rock and roll.

“Duane Eddy was the front guy, the first rock & roll guitar god,” said John Fogerty,  who credits Eddy as a chief influence.

A member of both the Musicians Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Eddy was born in Corning, New York, and then moved to Phoenix in his early teens. With help from producer Lee Hazlewood, he developed a signature guitar style, full of twang and bluster, and he recorded hit singles including “Cannonball,” “Forty Miles of Bad Road,” “Because They’re Young,” and “(Dance with the) Guitar Man.”

Eddy also embraced country and jazz influences, and collaborated with titans including Willie Nelson, George Harrison, Waylon Jennings, Chet Atkins, Paul McCartney, and Phil Everly.

His low-toned, tremulous twang is echoed in hit songs by others, including Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” and Steve Earle’s “Guitar Town.”

The program, held on Saturday, Feb. 13, included photos, video and audio samples of Eddy’s work, as well as a performance by the King of Twang. In case you missed the live stream, the archived version is now available for your enjoyment below.

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Top 5 Gretsch Road Trip Songs


Hopefully you have at least one road trip planned for the summer. And whether you’re driving in a Toyota Prius or a ’64 Chevy Impala, a solid soundtrack is a must.  It’s an important list, one that requires the requisite consideration to match the tempo of the ride and the terrain of the pavement.

We take our road trip playlists seriously.  After all, conversation with your fellow riders can only last so long.

So as a public service, we’ve pinpointed five road trip songs that will get your list started on the right foot, errr… wheel.

“Drive My Car” – The Beatles

Coming off the British version of1965’s Rubber Soul, the story goes that “Drive My Car” grew from the Beatles’ first recording session that extended past midnight, as Paul McCartney and George Harrison put together the basic rhythm.

“Drive My Car” features a thumping bottom end that is great for rolling down the windows and revving the engine, with an R&B feel that calls to mind the bass-heavy tracks that came out of Memphis’s Stax Records.

“Beep, Beep! Beep, Beep! Yeah!” indeed.

“Rebel Rouser” – Duane Eddy

The king of twang could have several entries on our playlist, with his signature guitar sound shining so bright on every track he released.  But Eddy’s “Rebel Rouser” has a rambling groove that is well-suited to flat country roads.  The instrumental hit is accentuated with bleats from a saxophone as it winds down, adding a car chase feel to the tune.

But don’t accelerate too fast.  It’s best to just take in the scenery when Eddy is doing his thing.

Highway to Hell – AC/DC

Written by brothers Angus and Malcolm Young and the late Bon Scott, “Highway to Hell” is a paean to the rigors of touring and life on the road with “no stop signs/speed limit.”

The riff is instantly recognizable and makes you want to put the pedal to the metal, as it sears through the brain and has the ability to instantly conjure an adrenaline rush.  Now, this fact might also make the song a dangerous one to drive with, but sometimes you need to drive fast and take chances.

Just watch out for the speed traps.

“Tush” – ZZ Top

Whether you’re going to Dallas, Texas, or Hollywood, “Tush” fits the bill.  The opening riff immediately commands the listener to pull on their sunglasses and secure their cowboy hat.  The original recording was found on Fandango and was ZZ Top’s first Top 20 single, with good reason.

Billy Gibbons takes two turns with searing slide guitar solos, and Dusty Hill’s strong bassline rumbles just as much as the engine.  The Texas trio’s hit is definitely at home when traversing the Lone Star State, but there is certainly room for a lot of “Tush” on the Sunset Strip.

“Long May You Run” – Neil Young

“Long May You Run” is an homage to Young’s beloved first car, a hearse that was known as “Mort.”  Seriously.

But this hearse has a lot of historical significance.  It was the vehicle that carted Young and his original band around Canada.  It broke down in the early 1960s in Blind River, Ont., but that spawned Mort’s successor, another hearse named “Mort Two” which ended up carrying him from Toronto to Los Angeles.  There, Young met Stephen Stills and eventually formed Buffalo Springfield.

So long may you run, Mort, in that scrapyard in the sky.  We’ll appreciate the song you inspired with our wheels firmly on the pavement.

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Duane Eddy Wows at Americana Honors and Awards Show


Duane Eddy

Getty Images. Photo Courtesy Americana Fest.

Duane Eddy’s trophy case is certainly stocked.

Earning membership in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Musicians Hall of Fame, a Grammy Award and a Mojo Icon Award will do that for an artist.

But the one-of-a-kind honor that he received Wednesday night at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville might be his finest, as the soft-spoken Eddy was blown away to win the award of Lifetime Achievement for Instrumentalist at the Americana Music Honors and Awards show.

“It’s pretty cool, and another thing that’s cool about it is Hank Williams is getting an award,” Eddy said before the star-studded event. “That doubles or triples the honor. For me to be on stage – at the Ryman – getting an award that Hank Williams is getting? Come on.

“I shouldn’t be in the same downtown area as he is, let alone get an award. It’s just such a great honor, and it blows me away.”

“Whispering” Bob Harris, the pioneering English rock, country and folk DJ on BBC Radio, was the one who presented Eddy with his newest trophy, a hand-painted guitar. Harris called Eddy the “Titan of Twang,” perhaps one-upping Eddy’s reputation as the “King of Twang.”

During Eddy’s acceptance speech he playfully said, “Americana music, that’s a great idea. I don’t know who thought of it, but I like it,” before taking the stage to perform his timeless hit “Rebel Rouser.”

Donning a sharp embroidered black jacket and a cowboy hat adorned with a feather, Eddy squeezed every ounce of twang out of the signature Gretsch guitar as the crack backing band – which included Buddy Miller, Don Was and Larry Campbell – assisted.

Once the saxophone hit the unmistakable accents of “Rebel Rouser,” several members of the audience rose to their feet, mesmerized by Eddy’s expert fretwork.

Earlier in the evening, Williams’ granddaughter Holly Williams accepted the President’s Award for the Americana legend before performing an amazing version of his classic “I’m So Lonesome I could Cry” to open the proceedings.

Other winners included Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, who took home Duo Group of the Year and Album of the Year for Old Yellow Moon, South Carolina upstarts Shovels and Rope, who were named Emerging Artist of the Year and nabbed Song of the Year for “Birmingham,” and Artist of the Year Dwight Yoakam.

Eddy’s wasn’t the only performances to wow the capacity crowd, however.

Shovels and Rope might only be a duo, but their floor-stomping folk nearly blew the roof of the venerable venue. Stephen Stills, fresh from taking home a Spirit of Americana/Free Speech in Music Award, also turned in a bombastic version of “For What It’s Worth” alongside current Rides bandmate Keny Wayne Shepherd.

California’s Milk Carton Kids garnered a standing ovation with their contribution of “Hope of a Lifetime,” while new Grand Ole Opry members and Trailblazer Award winners Old Crow Medicine Show held a joyous revival with their infectious “Wagon Wheel.”

By the end of the evening, as revelers hit Music City to attend one of many live concerts in Nashville’s countless venues, there was a palpable feeling that the Americana Music Honors and Awards was truly something special.

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Gretsch Q&A With Duane Eddy


Duane Eddy at Summer Jamboree

Duane Eddy (R) and Adam Bowden-Smith of Gretsch.

By Adam Bowden-Smith

In August, Gretsch signature artist Duane Eddy made his first-ever appearance in Italy to headline the annual Summer Jamboree festival in Senigallia, halfway down the east coast. Playing his signature Gretsch G6120DE, his trademark twang rolled over the crowd of thousands.

After a storming hour-long set, Eddy found time between signing autographs for the bustling crowd and a late dinner to have a quick chat with Gretsch about his first visit to Italy, as well as guitars, the band and the food.

GretschGuitars.com: This is your first time in Italy, but is it your first time in Europe?

Eddy: No, I’ve worked in the U.K., Germany, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland. Everywhere except Italy. Although, I’ve still never worked in Spain.

GretschGuitars.com: That’ll be next on the list, then.

Eddy:  Yeah, that’ll be next on the list. I’ve even been to South Africa, back in 1963.

GretschGuitars.com: How does Italy compare with the other places you’ve been in Europe?

Eddy: It’s beautiful. It’s a different beauty from England, for example. It’s, y’know, sunshine, and sea and sand. You got sea and sand in England, but not much sunshine [laughs].

GretschGuitars.com: Tell us about the particular guitar you used for this gig.

Eddy: The thing I thought was fantastic was that I shipped the guitar over from America to Italy, and I just took one that was right off the line.

GretschGuitars.com: So it’s literally just straight out of the factory?

Eddy: Right, straight out of the factory, straight to me. And so I took it out of the case and plugged it in, played it. The neck is just like my prototype. The guitar sounded great, so I put it back in the case in the box and shipped it on over here. I was amazed at being able to do that. I’ve never been able to do that. I’ve been with three different guitar companies, and I never was able to just grab one off the shelf, or pick one out of a store and play it, and it’d be just like mine.

And now I’m so pleased and proud to say that every one I’ve seen has been just like my prototype, and the company over there in Japan that builds them really are doing a fine job.

I took one off the factory line to Joe Glaser in Nashville, and I said Joe, “Check this out and see if you can adjust it so it plays better.” And I went to pick it up, he says, “Er, I can’t really charge you anything.” [laughs] He says “I can charge you a couple bucks for my time, but I couldn’t do anything to it, because they’re doing a fine job for you, at the factory. It’s perfect already.” And nothing was wrong with it. So I thought, “Wow, what a recommendation that is!”

GretschGuitars.com: Your backing band for this gig was a bit of a mix of people. Who did you have playing with you?

Eddy: Well, yeah – this is one band I use from California; Deke Dickerson. I worked with him last year in Las Vegas, I worked with him a couple of years before that in California, and also the year before that in New Orleans. I’ve worked with him about four times, but the band I usually use [in Europe] is Richard Hawley’s band, from Sheffield, and they are a superb bunch of musicians.

GretschGuitars.com: And you did a record with them, of course.

Eddy: Yes, we did a record with them, Road Trip (released on EMI in 2011), and I’ve done several (gigs). We did a whole month last year, and the month before that we did the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Festival Hall.  We’ve done up and down, everywhere from Brighton to Scotland to Glasgow and so forth. Went all over the place. And Tina and Louise, our singers, do a great job.

GretschGuitars.com: Now that you’ve played Italy, would you like to come back?

Eddy: I would love to come back, if only for the meals! [laughs] But, no – I’d love to come back. The people are sweet and nice, it’s really easy to get along with them and they’ve all been so sweet to us. So I’ve enjoyed the heck out of it. It’s been a wonderful time.

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