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HomeNewsRock ‘n’ Roll Pioneer Duane Eddy Dies at 86

Rock ‘n’ Roll Pioneer Duane Eddy Dies at 86

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A picture of Duane Eddy.
Source: Fredgretsch/X

Duane Eddy, 86, was a pioneer of the rock ‘n’ roll genre. The performer passed away from cancer on Tuesday last week amid his family. Over the course of his remarkable seven-decade career, he sold over 100 million records.  

Eddy achieved global success with his vibrant rhythms, hand claps, and backing hollers. He also perfected a unique sound by assuming that the bass strings of a guitar were recorded more beautifully than the high ones.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Grammy-winning musician enjoyed a string of instrumental hits. In 1986, he returned to the charts with a rework of his song Peter Gunn.

He was nicknamed the King of Twang because of his unique fashion sense. In 1994, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Additionally, he was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2008.

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In the 1950s, Eddy collaborated with producer Lee Hazlewood to create the Twang sound. Then, in the 1960s, Hazlewood used the beats to make Nancy Sinatra’s hit song “These Boots Are Made for Walkin.” 

Eddy’s commercial career saw success, reaching its height between 1958 and 1963. In 1993, he claimed to have slowed down after hearing the hit song “Freight Train” in 1970.

He recorded over 50 albums during his illustrious career, although some were reissued. From the 1980s on, Eddy reduced his output and started working less. For income, he started relying on his royalties on songs and previous works.

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In an interview, he described “Rebel Rouser” as the rockiest rock ‘n’ roll sound. He also spoke about the song title, which he claimed was a very befitting name. At the time of its release, the song was very unique.

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He composed the themes for several movies, namely “Gidget Goes Hawaiian,” “Because They’re Young,” and “Pepe.” However, when asked why he refused to do the James Bond theme, he said it was because it did not allow for a guitar solo.

In the 1970s, he started working away from the spotlight in music in music production, with his workspace mostly in Los Angeles. Eddy started playing the guitar at the age of five after relocating to Phoenix from New York, where he was born. 

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At the age of 13, Eddy moved to Arizona and teamed up with his friend Jimmy Delbridge to play in neighborhood performances. Aspiring producer Lee Hazlewood, who later recorded Eddy’s first solo single, “Movin’ n’ Groovin,” was made in 1957 when he was 19 years old. He spent his teenage years in Arizona, dreaming of performing at the Grand Ole Opry.

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Even though Eddy’s chart popularity declined following the British invasion in the middle of the 1960s. He became an inspirational figure for upcoming artists like Harrison and Hank Marvin of the Shadows. Nonetheless, his music endured for years due to its usage in over 30 motion pictures and television programs.

After years of semi-retirement at Lake Tahoe, California, he relocated to Nashville in 1985. Eddy recorded with both Paul McCartney and George Harrison, who were both fans of his during the Beatles era.

As we mourn the passing of a legend, we are also celebrating the joy of a life well lived. 

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