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R.I.P. Duane Eddy: Guitarist Behind Classic Instrumentals 'Rebel-'Rouser' and 'Peter Gunn,' Dead at 86

The legendary twanger and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee earned a second wave of fame when he teamed up with the Art of Noise in 1986.

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Eddy came to fame in the late 1950s, thanks to such singles as 'Rebel-'Rouser' and the theme to the TV series 'Peter Gunn.'

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Duane Eddy, the guitarist who found fame with such instrumentals as “Rebel-‘Rouser,” “Forty Miles of Bad Road,” “Because They’re Young,” and the theme to the TV series Peter Gunn, has died at the age of 86 in Franklin, Tennessee.

Eddy’s passing was confirmed by his representative, who said in a statement that he was surrounded by his wife Deed and his family, adding, “Duane inspired a generation of guitarists the world over with his unmistakable signature ‘Twang’ sound. He was the first rock and roll guitar god, a truly humble and incredible human being. He will be sorely missed.”

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Source: MEGA

Eddy found a second burst of fame in 1986 when he teamed with the Art of Noise for a new version of his classic 'Peter Gunn' theme.

Born in Corning, New York on April 26, 1938, Eddy was an early adopter of the guitar, beginning his twanging at a mere five years old, but it took him a few years to actually kick off his music career in earnest. At age 16, however, he formed a duo with Jimmy Delbridge. At this point, Eddy was residing in Arizona, which is how he and Jimmy came to cross paths with a Phoenix DJ by the name of Lee Hazlewood (yes, that Lee Hazlewood), who produced the duo’s debut single, “Soda Fountain Girl,” released in 1955.

The collaboration with Hazlewood paid off handsomely for Eddy: the two forged a formal partnership, one which found Hazlewood not only continued to produce Eddy’s material but also co-writing all of the original material on Eddy’s debut solo album, Have ‘Twangy’ Guitar, Will Travel, including Eddy’s signature hit, “Rebel-'Rouser.”

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It was also Hazlewood who was responsible for bringing the word "twang" into play as an adjective to describe Eddy's sound.

"[Lee] said it had a twangy sound, and [record company man] Lester Sill's partner broke up so bad over it that it became a running joke," Eddy told Reverb in 1995. "And then we decided to name the first album Have 'Twangy' Guitar Will Travel and they decided to call it twangy guitar, and it stuck. Just became a trademark kind of thing. It's rather a silly word, and not entirely descriptive, I don't think, but it was something for the average person in the street to identify."

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Once the word “twang” was introduced as a descriptor, Eddy’s record labels made the most of it when it came to his albums: over the course of his career, he released such LPs as The Twang’s the Thang, Twistin’ ‘N’ Twangin’, Twangy Guitar – Silky Strings, Twang a Country Song, Twangin’ Up a Storm!, Twangin’ the Golden Hits, Twangsville, The Biggest Twang of All, and – wait for it – The Roaring Twangies.

The collaboration with Hazlewood continued throughout the remainder of the 1950s and into the 1960s, but it gradually tended to be more on the production side of things, with Eddy increasingly offering up cover versions over originals, including a full album’s worth of Bob Dylan covers. After releasing the aforementioned The Roaring Twangies in 1967, Eddy stepped away from recording full albums, instead focusing on production of other artists, including Phil Everly and Waylon Jennings. He did, however, release a handful of non-LP singles, including 1975's "Play Me Like You Play Your Guitar," which was a top 10 hit in the U.K. and led to an appearance on Top of the Pops.

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Eddy earned a new burst of fame in 1986 when he teamed up with the Art of Noise to do an updated version of the Peter Gunn theme. The following year, he released a self-titled album, his first full-length LP in two decades, featuring contributions from Paul McCartney, John Fogerty, Steve Cropper, Jeff Lynne, the Art of Noise, Ry Cooder, George Harrison, Jim Keltner, David Lindley and James Burton, among others.

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Eddy's final studio album was 2011's Road Trip, which found him remaining in fine form. He also continued to be a road warrior for many years thereafter, touring regularly, but in a November 2020 interview with Music Radar, he admitted to feeling his age, replying to a question about whether he'd return to concerts after COVID, "I don’t know if I’ll go back to work, I’m getting too damn old now!"

Indeed, Eddy did not return to the road. But he certainly managed to leave quite a legacy behind nonetheless.

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