The unmistakable sound of Duane Eddy at the 2013 Americana Music Awards
By Stephen Pate – If you can remember “Rebel Rouser” by Duane Eddy you are as old as me. I was 10 years old when this song was a Top 10 hit on the Hit Parade in 1958.
Duane Eddy was a guitar player with two unique twists. He didn’t play fast and he didn’t play at the 12th fret on the 1st string. His leads were developed on detuned low E strings.
He also used a unique 2,000 gallon water tank for an echo chamber. The result was a “twangy” guitar as in Have ‘Twangy’ Guitar-Will Travel. Throw in a little yakety sax and do-wah back ups singers and you have the Duane Eddy formula.
Duane Eddy specialized in playing the Gretsch 6120 like Chet Atkins did at the time. Rock-a-billy artists still use that guitar to recreate the 50’s sound of rock and roll. Duane Eddy still plays a Gretsch 6120 today.
The Duane Eddy sound was a mix of country and rock and it was all Duane Eddy. Back in the 1950’s the Hit Parade was supposed to be rock and roll but pop tunes, novelties and country rock was thrown into the mix.
As the 50’s drew to a close, the original rebellious rock of Elvis the Pelvis was gone. Elvis was in the army. Chuck Berry and Little Richard were on the wane. Little Richard, the dynamo of rock became a preacher. A year later Chuck Berry was arrested under the Mann Act.