Tag Archives: Duane Eddy

The king of “twangy” guitar

The U.S. guitarist Duane Eddy, known as the “King of Twang”, helped popularize the electric guitar in the late 1950s and was the most commercially successful instrumental musician in rock ‘n’ roll. His first hit was Rebel rouser (1958), for which he received a Gold record award. His greatest successes were Peter Gunn (1958, composed by Henry Mancini and awarded a Grammy) and Because they’re young (1960), which also went Gold. He received his third Gold record in 1962 for (Dance with the) Guitar man.

Eddy became known for the twang sound: a sharp, slightly reverberant overtone and vibrato-rich timbre on his electric guitar. Variants of this term appeared in several album titles: Have twangy guitar will travel (1958, his debut album), The twangs the thang (1959), $1,000,000.00 Worth of twang (1963), and Twangsville (1965). In an 2024 interview Eddy did just before he passed, he described how the characteristic “watery sound” of his guitar was recorded in the studio. According to Eddy,

“Our echo chamber was actually a 2,000-gal water tank. We went down to the Salt River and visited a junkyard there. Floyd Ramsey, who owned the studio, Jack Miller, the engineer, and Lee [Hazlewood] and I went round the place and we yelled into tanks that might work as a reverb chamber–they had holes at each end. Lee would go, ‘Whoop!’ and he got an echo out of them. . . Jack put a speaker in one end and a mic in the other. He’d run my guitar and the band through the speaker and it’d swirl around in the tank and into the mic at the other end, and we’d have our echo. . .Then, of course, Lee would take [the recording] to Gold Star Studios in Hollywood; they had the best echo in the world at that time and he’d have their record, mix it with ours. That’s why it had such a wild echoey sound on many of those records.”

After the British invasion on the U.S. pop charts from 1964 onward (which included hit songs by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones), Eddy was considerably less represented on the charts, but he continued to record and release albums. He was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2008. In 2015, Rolling Stone magazine listed Eddy at number 64 of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

Duane Eddy passed away on 30 April 2024 at the age of 86. Read his obituary in MGG Online.

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