Duane Eddy

Gary: “Tonight I am looking at one or our previous postings and have rewritten it, treating it as if it were a new article.

When I was growing up in the mid and late fifties (I’m 71 now, so when it all started in 1954 I would have been 14) I always loved music.  I took guitar lessons, but did not stay with it, so I was a Four Chord wonder.  My music influence came from my Dad, Donald Copeland who loved music. Dad could play the guitar (and was also one fantastic Golfer  – he was a teaching pro). I loved Rock and Roll, Doo Wop, R&B, and a type of recording distinctive to the fifties and early sixties called “Instrumentals” [They had no vocal lyrics – imagine that! – RS]

In February of 1958, I heard an Instrumental on television’s American Bandstand and I loved it immediately. It was called “Moovin’ and Groovin”.  Little did I realize at the time that I had heard the first “charted” [on Billboard, etc. ] song from a man that would be ultimately inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame in 1994. This man would revolutionize the Electric Guitar by bending the low strings and using a combination of echo and the (Bigsby) Vibrato Bar and tremelo. 

But even Duane needed some help.  He met a man in 1954, the late Lee Hazelwood (Yes the one who wrote “These Boots Where Made for Walking” for Nancy) and even though they where both very new at this whole thing they would develop a partnership that would create many of his hits. 

Duane is a very quiet and gracious  person, who is just a “Great” musician – not the best singer but a good guitarist, and he wrote some great music.  I actually saw Duane in 1961 at Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, the Dick Clark Cavalcade of Stars.  Duane was also a very good looking young man – which did not hurt in my era (which was the birth of the term, “Teenager”).

Lester Still, Duane Eddy and Lee Hazelwood
Sanford Clark, Al Casey, Lee Hazelwood and Duane Eddy

Lee Hazlewood (Barton Lee Hazlewood – Mannford, Oklahoma, July 9, 1929 – Henderson, Nevada, August 4, 2007) was an American country and pop singer, songwriter, and record producer, most widely known for his work with guitarist Duane Eddy during the late fifties and singer Nancy Sinatra in the sixties.

Hazlewood had a distinctive baritone voice that added an ominous resonance to his music. Hazelwood’s collaborations with Nancy Sinatra as well as his solo output in the late 1960s and early 1970s have been praised as an essential contribution to a sound often described as “Cowboy Psychedelia” or “Saccharine Underground”.

The son of an oil man, Hazlewood was born in Mannford, Oklahoma and spent most of youth living between Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Louisiana. He grew up listening to pop and bluegrass music.

Hazlewood spent his teenage years in Port Neches, Texas where he was exposed to a rich Gulf Coast music tradition. He studied for a medical degree at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

Hazelwood served with the United States Army during the Korean War. Following discharge from the military, he worked as a disc jockey in Arizona while honing his songwriting skills. His first hit as a producer and songwriter was “The Fool”, recorded by rockabilly artist Sanford Clark in 1956.

Hazlewood produced / co-wrote an unprecedented string of instrumental hit records, including “40 Miles Of Bad Road”, Boss Guitar, “Shazam!”, “Rebel Rouser” , “(Dance With The) Guitar Man” and Peter Gunn”, partnering with a pioneering rock guitarist, Duane Eddy!

Duane Eddy’s Guitar’s

The first one I remember was the Gretsch 6120
His first weapon of choice and his signature.
Guild DE400 SB
Guild Duane Eddy model
Duane Eddy Signature Gibson


Rare German TV Production of Duane Eddy


This is mainly for my friend Don and his Gibson, who does not think Duane was much of a guitar picker.  I of course disagree and this will prove it – here is Cannonball Rag (1975):


Duane in 1996 with Cannonball and yes that is Steve Wariner playing acoustic:


Forty Miles of Bad Road/ Ryman Auditorium 2009:


Duane talks about the loss of all his precious Guitars in the Great Tennessee Floods of 2010:


One of Gary’s favourite’s, Peter Gunn has Duane with a young Sax player (Ron Dziubla, he can play!) at Glastonbury 2011; the guy’s still got it and that gorgeous Gretsch:


Moovin’ & Groovin & Detour / 2010 Guitar Geek Festival /
1988 PBS Buddy Holly Tribute show / Rebel Rouser & Ramrod with the great Jim Horn on Sax /
Shazam / Sometime around 1960 / two versions /
Rare / Dance with the Guitar Man / London UK I think 2010 /
Because they’re Young / 2012 Somerset England /
Don’t Be Cruel / Duane & Jim Horn 1987 Elvis Tribute Show /

1.   Ramrod was actually first recorded by Duane and the Rock-a-Billies in July 1957, but would be a hit August 1958

2.   Moovin’ and Groovin’/ Jamie 1101/ February 1958/ #72

3.   Rebel-Rouser/ Jamie 1104/ July 1958/ #8

4.   Ramrod/ Jamie 1109/ September 1958/ #27

5.   Cannonball/ Jamie 1111/ November 1958/ #15

6.   The Lonely One/ Jamie 1117/ February 1959/ #23

7.   “Yep”/ Jamie 1122/ April 1959/ #30

8.   Forty Miles of Bad Road/ Jamie 1126/ June 1959/ #9

9.   Some Kinda-A Earthquake/ Jamie 1130/ October 1959/ #37

10. Bonnie came Back/ Jamie 1144/ January 1960/ #26

11. Because They’re Young (from the movie with Dick Clark & Tuesday Weld)/ Jamie 1156/ June 1960/ #4

12. Peter Gunn (TV Series starring Craig Stevens)/ Jamie 1168/ October 1960

13. “Pepe”(from the Movie)/ Jamie 1175/ January 1961/ #18

14. Theme from Dixie (Anita Kerr Singers & the Jordinaires written in 1860) Jamie 1183/ April 1961/ #39

15. The Ballad of Paladin (TV Show Have Gun Will Travel, Richard Boone)/ RCA Victor 8047/ #33

16. (Dance with the) Guitar Man (Darlene Love & the Blossoms as the Rebelettes/ RCA Victor 8087/ November 1962/ #12

17. Boss Guitar (Darlene Love & the Blossoms as the Rebelettes)/RCA Victor 8131/ #28

18. Rockabilly Holiday/ From the 1987 Capitol Album [Did not chart, I just like it -Gary]

19. I almost Lost My Mind (One of Gary’s Favourite’s)/ from the 1958 Jamie Album “Have Twangy Guitar, Will Travel“)

Born in Corning, New York, in 1938, he began playing the guitar at the age of five, emulating his cowboy hero, Gene Autry. [He obviously went well beyond emulating Autry, breaking into new sounds with his innovative twangy effects – RS]

His family moved west to Arizona in 1951.Then in early 1954, in Coolidge, Arizona, Eddy met local disc jockey, Lee Hazlewood, who would become his long-time partner, co-writer and producer. They moved to Phoenix and together created a successful formula based upon Eddy’s unique style and approach to the guitar, and Lee’s experimental vision with sound in the recording studio.

Hazelwood and Eddy have been referred to as “one of the greatest hit-making machines of the Rock and Roll era.” Their first album, Have Twangy Guitar Will Travel, contained six big hit singles, and remained on the charts for an astounding 82 weeks.

Later in his career, Eddy was interviewed by John Fogerty for Musician magazine about his style. Fogerty called it ‘”big” both in a sense of it being new and the actual sound quality itself. Eddy told Fogerty, “I knew we had to have something big, so we did go for a big sound. I have to give a lot of credit to Lee Hazlewood. He mixed things for AM radio in those days so that they would come rockin out of the radio.”

Eddy introduced a unique, twangy sound to rock and roll guitar. As John Fogerty wrote in Rolling Stone about his style, “His sound is one of those untouchable, unique things…Duane Eddy was the front guy…the first real guitar god in rock & roll.”

Combining strong, dramatic, single-note melodies, the bending of the low strings, and a combination of echo, vibrato bar (Bigsby), and tremolo, he produced a signature sound that was unlike anything that had been heard before – the sound that would be featured on an unprecedented string of thirty four chart singles, fifteen of which made the top forty and sales of over 100 million worldwide. [Back in those days, and the world population, that was considered HUGE volume! – RS]

Elements of country, blues, jazz and Gospel infused his instrumentals. They had evocative titles like, “Rebel Rouser“, “Forty Miles of Bad Road“, “Cannonball“, “The Lonely One“, “Shazam“, and “Some Kind-a Earthquake” (which has the distinction of being the shortest song to ever break into the Top 40, clocking in at 1:17).

They were filled with rebel yells and saxophone breaks. The worldwide popularity of these records, beginning with “Moovin’ and Groovin” in 1958, broke open the doors for Rock and Roll instrumental music. Eddy’s band, The Rebels, featured musicians who were to become some of the world’s best-known session players. Sax players Steve Douglas and Jim Horn, pianist Larry Knechtel, and guitarist Al Casey, have been heard on hundreds of hit records, becoming members of the famous “Wrecking Crew” of Phil Spector in the 1960s, and touring with a very elite group of artists through the years.

On January 9, 1959, Eddy’s debut album, Have Twangy Guitar Will Travel, was released, reaching #5, and remaining on the album charts for an unprecedented 82 weeks.

In 1960, the UK’s “New Musical Express” voted him World’s Number One Musical Personality, ousting Elvis Presley from his long held position. That same year, he appeared in and recorded the theme for the movie Because They’re Young. The song became Eddy’s biggest success, peaking at #4. “Rebel ‘Rouser” peaked at #6, and “Forty Miles Of Bad Road” peaked at #9 in 1958 and 1959, respectively.

Eddy constantly broke new ground, producing over 25 albums spanning a broad range of themes. At the height of the Rock and Roll era, he recorded an album of completely acoustic music, Songs Of Our Heritage, the first “unplugged” project, so to speak. There were orchestral albums, Big Band sounds of the 1940s, and an album of songs written by Bob Dylan, who, years later, would write in his autobiography,Chronicle, “For sure my lyrics had struck nerves that had never been struck before, but if my songs were just about the words, then what was Duane Eddy, the great rock and roll guitarist, doing recording an album full of instrumental melodies of my songs?”

During the 1960s Eddy launched an acting career, appearing in the films A Thunder of DrumsThe Wild WesternersKona CoastThe Savage Seven, and two appearances on the television series Have Gun ? Will Travel.

The 1970s were equally busy for Eddy. He produced album projects for Phil Everly and Waylon Jennings. In 1975, a collaboration with hit songwriter Tony Macaulay and former founding member of The Seekers, Keith Potger, led to a worldwide top ten record, “Play Me Like You Play Your Guitar“. The single, “You Are My Sunshine“, featuring Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, hit the country charts in 1977.

In 1983, Duane toured with a group of legendary musicians, playing small, intimate clubs. Friends of Eddy’s had put this band together wanting to give the fans a chance to hear him in a unique setting – Don Randi on keyboards, Hal Blaine on drums, Steve Douglas on sax, and Ry Cooder on guitar.

In 1986, Eddy recorded with Art of Noise, a collaboration that brought a contemporary edge to his 1960 best selling version of Henry Mancini’s Peter Gunn. The song was a Top Ten hit around the world, ranking #1 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s dance chart for six weeks that summer. “Peter Gunn” won The Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental of 1986. It also gave Eddy the distinction of being the only instrumentalist to have had Top 10 hit singles in four different decades in Great Britain.

The following year, a new album, the self-titled, Duane Eddy, was released on Capitol. As a tribute to his influence and inspiration to so many young players, some of the world’s best known artists and producers wanted to be a part of this project. Several of the tracks were produced by Paul McCartney, Jeff Lynne, Ry Cooder, and Art of Noise. Guest artists and musicians included John Fogerty, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ry Cooder, James Burton, David Lindley, Steve Cropper, and original Rebels, Larry Knechtel and Jim Horn.

In the spring of 1994, Eddy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, alongside fellow artists Elton John, Rod Stewart, John Lennon, Bob Marley and The Grateful Dead. Later that year, film soundtracks introduced Eddy’s music to millions as they watched Forrest Gump being chased by a pickup truck full of rednecks as he runs across a football field to the sound of “Rebel Rouser“.

Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers used “The Trembler“, a track written by Eddy and Ravi Shankar, to help create a spine-chilling scene set against a violent thunderstorm in the desert.

In 1996, Eddy joined Academy Award winning composer Hans Zimmer on the soundtrack of Broken Arrow, starring John Travolta. Eddy’s unique guitar sound was first choice to be the “voice” for the villain’s theme. To quote Mr. Zimmer, “I always thought that Duane’s style was being ripped off by the spaghetti westerns. This time I got the real thing.” This piece was also used as a recurring theme in Wes Craven’s hit film, Scream 2.

In spring, 1997, Eddy was inducted into the Rock-Walk, placing his handprints and signature into cement, along with his friends Chet Atkins, Scotty Moore, and James Burton.

In 2004 the new Gibson Duane Eddy Signature Model guitar was introduced. It was built to Eddy’s specifications by the Gibson Custom Art and Historic Division. Later that year, he was presented with the Guitar Player Magazine “Legend Award“. Eddy was the second recipient of the award, the first having been presented to Eddy’s own guitar hero, Les Paul.

Asked by Musician magazine how he felt about influencing generations of musicians, Eddy commented that it “is an unexpected bonus. It makes me feel more important than I otherwise would be. It’s a confirmation, many years later, that it was the right thing. And we had no way of knowing at the time. We got confirmation in the fact that the records were hits. That’s the first big joy. But after it dies down, then suddenly somebody comes along and says, “You started me in the business.”

Among those who openly acknowledge his influence are George Harrison, Dave Davies (The Kinks), Hank Marvin (The Shadows), The Ventures, John Entwistle (The Who), Bruce Springsteen, Adrian Belew, Bill Nelson (Bebop Deluxe), and Mark Knopfler.

Duane Eddy’s Original Sax Player

Actually, Eddy used several different tenor saxophone players for his recording sessions:


Rebel Rouser – GIL BERNAL
Cannonball – STEVE DOUGLAS


Forty Miles Of Bad Road – STEVE DOUGLAS
Some Kinda Earthquake – PLAS JOHNSON


Bonnie Came Back – JIM HORN
Because They’re Young – JIM HORN


Theme From Dixie – JIM HORN
The Ballad Of Paladin – JIM HORN & PLAS JOHNSON
Dance With The Guitar Man – JIM HORN
Boss Guitar – JIM HORN

All of the above names were supplied by several album collectors and Duane Eddy via his wife (emails). In addition, Plas Johnson reviewed the list and confirmed that the names were correct.



9 responses to “Duane Eddy



  2. Pingback: More Duane Eddy – Gary | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

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  5. In 2004 Cliff Richard made a CD “Something’s Goin’ On”
    He went to Nashville to record some of the songs.
    You can hear Duane Eddy playing his twangy Guitar in “For Life’

  6. I bought the original Cliff Cd.It said it was Duane eddy.
    I am not sure about this live version.It might be somone in his band.
    It is not as good as the studio version.If you want it I can send it to you.

  7. It would be great to have Cliff Richard’s “For Life” with Duane Eddy. Thanks, Drew, for sending an mp3.

  8. Pingback: Instrumentals of the 50’s “The Lost Music” | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

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