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Duane Eddy
 
 
Duane Eddy was born on the 23rd April 1938 in Corning, New York, USA. During his teenage years he and his family relocated to Phoenix, Arizona before getting involved in the local music scene there. As a result he decided to quit high school before forming a band called The Rebels alongside the original line up of Al Casey, Buddy Wheeler, Donnie Owens, Cork Casey, Mike Bermani and Pias Johnson. The band were signed to Ford Records and released their debut, and only single for the label entitled Ramrod in January 1958. 
 
The young guitarist then befriended a disc jockey named Lee Hazelwood who signed the band to Jamie Records, which he co-owned with Dick Clark. Hazelwood became Duane’s co-writer on many of his hits. The band changed their name to Duane Eddy & The Rebels and released Moovin’ N’ Groovin’ peaking at number seventy two in the American charts. It wouldn’t be until the release of the follow up, Rebel Rouser [USA: #6] that Duane’s now famous twang sound would be heard on both sides of the Atlantic. The guitarist became the first real rock ‘n’ roll instrumentalist to have a string of massive hits, including Cannonball; The Lonely One and Yep! In June 1959 Duane released Peter Gunn that became a top ten hit in the UK, and would be once more 27 years later. The single was credited to just Duane Eddy, the track paved way for an impressive series of major US and UK hits. The hits kept coming with more classic instrumentals like Forty Miles Of Bad Road; Some Kind-A Earthquake; Bonnie Come Back; Shazam!; Because They’re Young; Pepe; Theme From Dixie; Ring Of Fire (pre-dating the Johnny Cash version); Drivin’ Home; My Blue Heaven; Caravan; Deep In The Heart Of Texas and The Ballad Of Paladin. It wasn’t just the hit singles that made Duane a huge star, he was also one of the first artists to enjoy the success of having hit albums including Have “Twangy Guitar” Will Travel; Especially For You, The “Twangs” The “Thang”; Sons Of Heritage; A Million Dollars’ Worth and Girls Girls Girls.
 
Around mid 1960, the guitar legend made his acting debut in the film Because They Are Young and go onto appear in a further films The Savage Seven; A Thunder of Drums; The Wild Westerners and Kona Coast. In 1962 Duane took a new direction with his music by having a female singers appearing on his records. Now recording as Duane Eddy & The Rebelettes, they went on to have further hits with (Dance With) The Guitar Man and Boss Guitar. A further three hits credited to Duane followed, Lonely Boy, Lonely Guitar; Your Baby’s Gone Surfin’ and Son Of Rebel Rouser marked the end of his five year run of hits in the USA, partly due to the explosion of The Beatles. Although the hit singles and albums had ended, Duane still carried on as a recording artist for the duration of the 1960s & 1970s. His last UK hit was in February 1975, once again with The Rebelettes on Play Me Like Your Guitar peaking at number nine.
 
In 1983 Duane began touring once more and in 1986 teamed up with the Art of Noise on their remake of his classic hit Peter Gunn. He became the first guest artist to team up with them and also appeared live with them on British music television show The Tube, and at some of their live shows. The result of the new version of Peter Gunn brought him back to the public attention and earned him a Grammy Award. This collaboration with the Art of Noise was not a one-off thing as they recorded a further two tracks together, the single Spies and Lost Innocence that appeared on his 1987 comeback album Duane Eddy. As well as featuring the Art of Noise, the album also included contributions from Paul McCartney on the track Rockestra Theme that was also released as a single, Jeff Lynne, Ry Cooder, James Burton, Steve Cropper, former Rebels Jim Horn and Jim Keltner with the late George Harrison.

In early 1994 Duane was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame before contributing recording new material with Hans Zimmer on the music score to the film Broken Arrow some two years later. Prior to the new material, two of his hits were used in the films Forrest Gump and Natural Born Killers. Further recognition of Duane’s work came when he placed his signature and handprints into cement as he was inducted into the Rockwall in 1997. In 2004 Gibson Guitars introduced the Duane Eddy Signature Model that was built to his own specifications before being presented with the Guitar Player Magazine Legend Award later that year.

2011 saw the guitar legend took to the stage at the legendary Glastonbury Festival in the UK before going on a small tour there that kicked off on 13th May 2012 in Manchester ending in York on 26th May.

For the past fifty-five years Duane’s legacy as a guitar legend still remains. He is the biggest selling instrumentalist of all time and is regarded as one of the true rock n’ roll greats by many of today's guitar heroes.
 
© Copyright K.M. Whitehouse 2008, 2012
 

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